The compatibility of effective self-ownership and joint world ownership

University dissertation from Stockholm : Department of Political Science, Stockholm University

Abstract: The three main conclusions of this doctoral thesis are: first, that effective self-ownership is compatible with joint world ownership; second, that it is incompatible with private ownership as expressed in right-libertarianism; third, that it is incompatible with private ownership as expressed in left-libertarianism. Effective self-ownership is a technical way of expressing personal freedom, and joint world ownership means that the world is owned by everyone in common and that people, therefore, have an equal say as regards its use. Right-libertarianism and left-libertarianism both support private ownership. The difference between them is mainly their respective view on how private property legitimately can be formed. Crudely put, the right-libertarian believes that ownership may be formed through mixing one's labour with the external resources in question, whereas left-libertarianism recognises ownership only if it is initially equally distributed. Furthermore, it is argued that joint world ownership, right-libertarianism, left-libertarianism and the various versions of these exhaust the field, or that these are, at least, the most obvious alternatives to be reckoned with. It may, therefore, also be concluded that if one finds effective self-ownership valuable, one should also adopt joint world ownership. To be able to assess the arguments of this thesis, one obviously needs to know more about ownership. Therefore, this doctoral thesis will also include a thorough analysis of rights and ownership.This thesis takes part in and elaborates the traditional debate within political theory: whether personal freedom is compatible with material equality. It is by many believed that they are incompatible. The reason for this is that the measures taken to uphold material equality appear to reduce personal freedom. But if effective self-ownership is a reasonable expression of personal freedom and joint world ownership of material equality, then the thesis advocated here claims that the scepticism of their incompatibility is ill founded and that they, indeed, are compatible.

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