The Elgar Companion to the Economics of Property Rights
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The Elgar Companion to the Economics of Property Rights

Edited by Enrico Colombatto

Economics is a matter of choice and growth, of interaction and exchange among individuals. Because property rights define the rules of these interactions and the objects of exchange, it is vital to fully understand the institutions and implications of the various property-rights regimes. With over 20 original and specially commissioned chapters, this book takes the reader from the historical and moral foundations of the discipline to the frontiers of scholarly research in the field.
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Chapter 1: Cultural and Religious Foundations of Private Property

Leonard P. Liggio and Alejandro A. Chafuen


Leonard P. Liggio and Alejandro A. Chafuen Fashion, discipline, and education, have put eminent differences in the ages of several countries, and made one generation much differ from another in arts and sciences. But truth is always the same; time alters it not, nor is it better or worse for being of ancient or modern tradition. (John Locke [1697] 1802, Section 24, p. 79) Introduction Private property is both a notion and a reality, which has concrete existence. In many different cultures, and from many different religious perspectives, people have analysed, justified and recommended different degrees of respect for appropriation. The economic arguments in favour of private property are important. Most economists agree that economics is a value-free science. Valuing property falls outside economic science. In order for private property to become a reality it will need more: it will need to be embodied in a rule of law, a culture that respects it, or at least leaders who value and are ready to implement it. Although we acknowledge that actions are at least as relevant as words to understand the institution of private property, in this chapter we shall focus on the role of ideas. This is an essay on the history of ideas placed in a historical context of Western civilization. While economists might have credibility when arguing from a cost–benefit perspective, moralists have a much higher degree of authority when arguing about values. In recent surveys, religious leaders appear as the most respected figures...

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