TRINPsite 51.09.2 - 55.35.1  
===============  MNI/BoI/9/4/4.HTM 




As noted before --in 9.1.3-- property is an active, discretionary right if, or insofar as, it is extrinsic. Hence, it is the right to use or not to use a thing, and the right to exclude or not to exclude other people who are not co-owners, from this thing; or to include or not to include them. For example, every person has a property right in `er own body. This means that `e can refuse everyone else`s use of `er body, or of parts thereof, so long as `e lives, regardless of the law of the land. But the right is discretionary: `e does not have to refuse such use. `E may allow others to touch `im; `e may even invite them to touch `im. `E may allow others to remove one of `er organs for a transplantation; `e may even offer such an organ for transplantation without being asked to do so. This is the 'exclusivity' of the extrinsic property right in one`s body, namely that one may exclude everyone from one`s bodily sphere; and this is the 'inclusivity' of this same right, namely that one may include anyone into one`s bodily sphere.

What applies to the bodies of people, applies to all things of which a person is the sole owner. Thus, if someone has the extrinsic right in a small piece of land, `e can refuse entry to anyone, but `e can also admit anyone `e likes. This, again, is both the 'exclusivity' and 'inclusivity' of the discretionary property right. It shows why the constellation of extrinsic property-rights and -duties is a mere institutional skeleton still waiting to be fleshed up with genuine moral content. From the purely metadoctrinal standpoint one may refuse to help a drowning person only because one does not want to have one`s body used by that person; one may allow another person to be very intimate even tho one knows, and does not tell, that one has a contageous disease; one may send away hungry people who ask for a little bit of food, even tho one has plenty of cultivated vegetables and fruits; and one may share one`s property with a person who lies all the time, and who spreads the most appalling prejudices. All these things can only be rejected on doctrinal grounds. Yet, we must not say that the metadoctrinal foundation is insufficient and should be replaced by a doctrinal system, because then we would infringe upon everyone`s right to personhood. This infringement would itself be immoral. What we need is a doctrine to provide the substantive normative content. People should, then, choose this doctrine as theirs and act accordingly, but no-one has the right to force them to choose this doctrine, just as no-one has the right to force them to satisfy the requirements of another doctrine.

As we have seen, the metadoctrinal principle underlying the right to personhood is a past-regarding one, and not a nontemporal end-state principle. This means that it can give rise to gross inequalities at one particular moment in time (something which is not possible when equality itself is the or an end-state strived for on the basis of a consequentialist principle.) The reason is that on a past-regarding principle past actions of people may create differences in rights to things, for example, when people give things away, when they produce valuable things or when they inherit person-made things. To force a certain exclusively future-regarding distributional pattern upon people would require a continuous interference with their lives, and would violate their rights to personhood (provided that they do not interfere with other people, such as by denying them their equal share in the natural resources).

It has been argued that any favored pattern will degenerate into an unfavored one by people freely choosing how to use some of the resources allocated to them, unless such acts between consenting people are bluntly forbidden, something that violates their rights again. The flaw in this argument is not that such a situation can degenerate but that it would have to. People do not derive their extrinsic rights from being a mere user of resources, they derive these rights from having their own moral convictions, from choosing and having chosen their own normative doctrine or ideology. In the same way as they are free to choose for money or for a doctrine of infinite capital accumulation, they are free to join egalitarian communities, or voluntary associations united in solidarity of moral purpose. From the metadoctrinal standpoint people may be free to spoil others, they are also free to commence the task of morally reeducating others, so long as it is on a voluntary basis. The liberty of choosing may be a prerequisite for being a moral agent, the choice of solidarity or equality is, then, a prerequisite for being moral.

Equality (both present- and non-present-regarding) is only one aspect of an adequate normative doctrine. Another important aspect is, whether people who have the extrinsic property right to exclude or include others, do also have the intrinsic right to exclude others from their property, or to include them; and more importantly, whether they have such a right in general. When dealing with this question we will have to distinguish exclusion and exclusivity in an indifferent, goal-independent sense, from the same terms used to refer to some kind of irrelevant exclusion or exclusivity, just as we had to differentiate two meanings of discrimination (namely making a distinction and making an irrelevant distinction). We possess the tools to start doing this.

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Model of Neutral-Inclusivity
Book of Instruments
Property as a Right of Personhood