SOPhiA 2018

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Taking Citizens Seriously: Towards a Pragmatist Justification of Property Rights
(Political Philosophy & Philosophy of Law, English)

We can cluster the main philosophical justifications of property rights into two major groups: i) self-ownership justifications, and ii) agency justifications. The former lays its foundations in modern philosophy and the natural law discourse, and the latter in an abstract concept of agency link with some idea of human flourishing or human good. Beyond its differences, the two groups carry out what John Dewey called the fallacy of classical liberalism, that is, that they both assume a false division between individual and society. Namely, that individuals have a natural endowment of rights whose full potential is endangered by society. Thus, the role of institutions and law is to remove every social obstruction that limits individuals enjoyment of their natural rights.

Justifications about property rights also display a known fact in the history of modern thought: that liberalism and democracy had not always go hand in hand. On the contrary, there has always been a tension between liberal rights (individual) and democratic legitimacy (societal legitimation). I claim that thinking about rights from a citizenship centered approach could help loosen that tension.

Drawing from Dewey's insight according to which we must take democracy as the central concept of political theory, I will study the role of democratic citizenship in the justification of property rights. This means that I will assume as a premise that there cannot be a proper justification of property rights without consideration of the political context in which they are inset -- or that allows them to exist.

As a current hypothesis, I assume that the study of property rights in light of the idea of democratic citizenship will show that the self-ownership justification of property rights is untenable and the agency justification is insufficient. This last claim refers to what democracy demands as essential to citizenship, that is, political equality.

Chair: Martina Valkovic
Time: 10:40-11:10, 14 September 2018 (Friday)
Location: SR 1.007

Mario Josue Cunningham Matamoros 
(Utrecht University, Netherlands)

I'm a Costa Rican graduate student at Utrecht University, where I'm enrolled in the Philosophy Research MA Program. My main interests are political theory and democratic theory.

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