The Theory of Roman Property Rights

The Theory of Roman Property Rights

Part III of V in a course on Roman Law. 

What can we learn from the Roman framework for property law? Professor Richard Epstein explains that modern views on property emphasize the importance of private ownership but the Roman system had a more nuanced understanding of the interplay between private, common, and public property.

Questions covered include: What is 'common property' and why was it important to the Roman system? How did the Roman system address the tension between private property and access to public resources? How did the ancient Romans regulate water usage and ownership? What does it mean for the government to hold waterways "in trust?

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1 of 5: Common vs. Private Property in the Roman System [No. 86]

What can we learn from the Roman framework for property? Professor Richard Epstein argues that our modern views on property originated with thinkers like John Locke and James Madison, who emphasized the primacy of private property. The Romans, on t ... What can we learn from the Roman framework for property?

Professor Richard Epstein argues that our modern views on property originated with thinkers like John Locke and James Madison, who emphasized the primacy of private property. The Romans, on the other hand, constructed their system based on a divide between common property (owned by everyone) and property that did not belong to anyone. The latter could be claimed by occupation or possession and become private. The common property could never be privately owned to the exclusion of others.

Professor Richard Epstein is the inaugural Laurence A. Tisch Professor of Law at NYU School of Law, a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, and Professor of Law Emeritus and a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago.

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As always, the Federalist Society takes no position on particular legal or public policy issues; all expressions of opinion are those of the speaker.

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