Self-Ownership and Property Rights

I’ve covered in depth the concept of self-ownership. Namely to say each individual is the owner of his or herself. Thus most arguments regarding laws that attempt to regulate the actions of humans are, in actuality, arguments about property rights, namely the right of your ownership of yourself. Oftentimes presenting this fact to people leads to their outrage as they declare, “I am not a piece of property!” Those who look at property rights as a claim of ownership over an object are mistaken in their idea of what constitutes property and ownership.

In the post about self-ownership I described that property rights derive from the mixing of your labor with natural resources. When you expend effort on transforming unowned resources into something more useful you have mix a part of yourself, your labor, with the resource thus making it an extension of yourself. The fact that a part of you has been incorporated into the good is what gives you the right to claim ownership over the object.

When people claim they are not property they are misunderstand what actually constitues ownership. Ownership is not an arbitrarily declare attribute of an object but an extension of yourself. You own yourself which means you own your labor which means you own the product of your labor. Possessing property means possessing extension of yourself. My television isn’t simply a device I arbitrarily claim as mine, instead it is an extension of me in the hours of labor I expended in exchange for the resources (money in this case) to purchase the television.

Thus property ownership is an extension of self-ownership. It is not a bad thing to be declare your own property because that implies you have exclusive control over yourself. Claiming you do not own yourself creates a question, who does own you? In the absence of the self-ownership axiom what justification exists for property ownership? Most people who take offense to being called self-owned property have rarely spent time considering what constitutes property and how somebody can justify claims that something is theirs.

A concept can’t be argued unless you fully understand the implications and justifications of that concept. In order to justify any claim of ownership over property you must first be able to use reason to justify the very concept of ownership itself.