Edited by Enrico Colombatto
Chapter 1: Cultural and Religious Foundations of Private Property
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  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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