Life And Your Property
In political science lecture, we learned about how John Locke feels about property. When people think of property as personal property, they think of things such as land, a car, or a house. Locke asks, do you really own these things? Do you really own the land your house sits on?
Locke has 3 restrictions that he says people can have property. 1. one may only appropriate as much as one can use before it spoils, 2. one must leave “enough and as good” for others, which many consider the primary restriction and 3. one may (supposedly) only appropriate property through one’s own labor.
So do you really own everything? As we discussed in my class, land is pretty straight forward. People pay for the land, therefore they own it. On the other hand, things like air, water, and intellect are not as easy to define as personal property. Professor LaVaque-Manty used the example of owning water. If you buy a can of coke, take it to Lake Michigan and dump it in, what happens? The coke spreads out throughout the water, just as oil spreads out over the water when there is an oil spill. So, do you then own the water that the coke has spread over?
Another thing that is hard to put a property right on is a person’s personal intellect. People cannot buy others thought and people’s thoughts cannot spoil. Sometimes, people thoughts are used for inventions or updating a current object, but also include things such as names images, and writings. Today, the government is trying to put a definition of ownership of intellect by creating restrictions such as copyrights, trademarks, and patents. However, you cannot put a patent on the idea when it’s inside someone’s head.
Do we own everything that society claims we own? If that answer was up to me, I would say no. Look at all everything in your house, do you use everything use all of it? Do you eat all your food before it spoils? I know I don’t. For example, when I look around my apartment, I see movies that have not been watched in years, food that has been in my cupboard since I moved in, and work shoes that have never been worn with the tags still on them. Easily you can see that food spoils and that wastes it. The shoes were on backorder when they were given to me so there was not enough to be given out when I received them. And I have wasted them with not wearing them, basically spoiling them.
The idea of ownership has always been a question people have asked themselves. However, everyone has a different definition of property ownership. For example, when Thomas Hobbes asks “How can anyone call anything their own?” he responded “My own can only truly be mine if there is one unambiguously strongest power in the realm, and that power treats it as mine, protecting its status as such.” He means that if he has power over it, it is his.
So as you can see, everyone has a different definition of property and property ownership. What is yours?