Libertarianism, Rectification and Property Rights: A Re-evaluation

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Abstract

A famous libertarian argument is that any allocation of property is just, if it is the result of legitimate original acquisitions and legitimate transfers ('justice in holdings'). However current ownership of property rarely follows 'justice in holdings'. This creates a dilemma for libertarianism. If libertarian principles point to protecting current holdings, the result is a violation of 'justice in holdings'. If the libertarian position requires that only holdings resulting from justice in holdings are legitimate, this will entail a policy of rectification and redistribution. Three major libertarians attempted to offer solutions to this problem: Nozick, Narveson and Epstein. The goal of this essay is to demonstrate that their solutions face two challenges. First, their solutions come into conflict with certain core libertarian principles. Second, their solutions are so different from one another as to be incompatible with each other. This demonstrates that libertarianism is struggling with a fundamental challenge, and a satisfying solution is yet to be suggested by libertarians.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-143
Number of pages21
JournalCanadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence
Volume27
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence.

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