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Faculty Workshop – Sean Aas

September 15, 2023 @ 12:15 pm 1:45 pm

Hariri 310.

Sean Aas (Georgetown University department of philosophy) will present his work-in-progress titled “Mine Alone? Property, Authority, and Unilateral Acquisition.” Visitors are welcome and lunch will be served. Please email the director of the institute if you intend to attend.

Abstract of the paper:

This paper develops an objection to unilateral acquisition of private property, and thus to standard arguments for the sorts of natural property rights that are often offered up as constraints on ‘redistribution’ taxation. I begin by clarifying the prima facie problem with unilateral acquisition, arguing that it is first and foremost a moral problem about the arrogation of authority, rather than a metaphysical problem about the ‘transformation’ of moral reality. But, I argue, no account of authority in the more familiar political case allows it to be arise without authorizing practices. Among other reasons: absent social practices, there is no way for putative subjects of complex authority relations to know that these relations are in place. Without this knowledge, subjects of putative authority relations are not obligated to obey, after all. This epistemic point, I argue, presses against the reality and/or moral relevance of ‘natural’ authority in property as well, whether we try to justify it in terms of general utility, individual interests, or fundamental rights.