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94 Cornell L. Rev. 743 (2008-2009)
A Statement of Progressive Property

handle is hein.journals/clqv94 and id is 751 raw text is: A STATEMENT OF PROGRESSWE PROPERTY
Gregory S. Alexandeit
Eduardo M. Pe-alvertt
Joseph William Singerttt
Laura S. Underkuffettt
1. Property operates as both an idea and an institution. The common
conception of property as protection of individual control over val-
ued resources is both intuitively and legally powerful. Sometimes
the expression of this idea focuses on the right to exclude others
and sometimes on the free use of what one owns. This intuitively
appealing conception of property has been extremely influential in
discussions of property rights in the United States. However, inter-
nal tensions within this conception and the inevitable impacts of
one person's property rights on others make it inadequate as the
sole basis for resolving property conflicts or for designing property
institutions. For those tasks, we must look to the underlying human
values that property serves and the social relationships it shapes
and reflects.
2. Property implicates plural and incommensurable values.
2.1. Some of these values promote individual interests, wants,
needs, desires, and preferences. Some promote social inter-
ests, such as environmental stewardship, civic responsibility,
and aggregate wealth. Others govern human interaction to en-
sure that people relate to each other with respect and dignity.
2.2. These values are not solely a matter of satisfying personal pref-
erences. Values can generate moral demands and obligations
that underlie judgments about the interests that the law
should recognize as property entitlements.
2.3. Values promoted by property include life and human flourish-
ing, the protection of physical security, the ability to acquire
knowledge and make choices, and the freedom to live one's
life on one's own terms. They also include wealth, happiness,
and other aspects of individual and social well-being.
2.4. The pursuit of these values implicates moral and political con-
ceptions of just social relationships, just distribution, and de-
mocracy. It requires virtue, particularly humility, and
t A. Robert Noll Professor of Law, Cornell Law School.
tt Professor, Cornell Law School.
ttt Bussey Professor of Law, Harvard Law School.
tttt J. DuPratt White Professor of Law, Cornell Law School.


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