Tim Hayward, "Human Rights vs Property Rights"

This paper advances a contrast between human rights and mere rights of property in direct support of which no reasonable human rights argument can be advanced.  The contrast is drawn by means of a set of separate distinctions that can be drawn in relation to rights; in each case we can reasonably refer to rights on one side as property rights and to those on the other as human rights.  Recognizing that the distinctions may not always be straightforward to apply, however, I then also address claims that at least some property rights are human rights.  There are three main types of claim.  One is that sometimes the substantive ends of human rights require provision of positive property rights as an instrumental means to securing them, and a second is that a right to be recognized as a person capable of being a property owner can be defended on a human rights basis.  The first kind of claim allows instrumental justification for specific rights of property in particular circumstances and the second can be characterized as justifying a procedural right.  Both such justifications, appropriately applied, can succeed, but a third, I argue, cannot: this involves a claim that there is a general and substantive human right of property.  I therefore conclude that we both can and should deny any such claim.

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