PropertyProf Blog

Editor: Stephen Clowney
Univ. of Kentucky College of Law

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Thursday, March 9, 2006

Purdy on People as Property

Jedediah S. Purdy (Duke Law School) has posted People as Property: On Being a Resource and a Person in the BEPress Legal Repository.  Here's the abstract:

Property law facilitates the efficient use and allocation of scarce resources and recognizes and protects aspects of personhood – the bases of dignity and self-respect. Human beings, who are both resources for one another and the persons whose moral importance the legal system seeks to protect. This article explores how property law has addressed this paradox in the past and how might in the future.

I analyze two bodies of nineteenth-century law where the paradox was highlighted: the legal regimes of labor discipline for slaves in the antebellum South and for free workers in the laissez-faire Lochner era. The law struggled over how to regard laborers’ bodies as resources and how to understand them as persons. I then show how these jurisprudential problems tracked contemporary debates in political and economic thought about the nature of property in human beings. I argue that property regimes always define a boundary between personhood and resource value.

I apply this analysis to two areas: voluntary peer production in digital media and the entrance of Indian women into the paid workforce. Both demonstrate how changes in how people are able to approach others as resources – specifically changes in the direction of increased reciprocity – help produce a more robust conception of personhood and a more egalitarian and attractive social life. I offer the increase in reciprocity as a normative touchstone for assessing property regimes.

Ben Barros

[Comments are held for approval, so there will be some delay in posting]

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/property/2006/03/jedediah_s_purd.html

Property Theory, Recent Scholarship | Permalink

TrackBack URL for this entry:

http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341bfae553ef00d8355d935469e2

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Purdy on People as Property:

Comments

Post a comment