Property and the Common Law

Property and the Common Law

What kind of rule provides stable property possession within a complex system of property ownership and leasing?  Professor Richard Epstein of NYU School of Law gives a basic definition of the rules of property, then goes through a variety of cases and examples integral to Anglo-American property law.  Professor Epstein provides an alternative to the conventional view that property rights are arbitrarily created by the state, and therefore can be changed at will by the state; a few simple rules, he argues, are universal principles of social organization, consistent across time and culture, which form the basis of social gains.

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7 of 11: 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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