Tuesday, June 23, 2009
I've been thinking about possession quite a bit lately, and this in turn has led me to think a bit about how we frame issues in the first-year property course. There are a number of issues where I (and I think most PropertyProfs) teach the received wisdom on certain theoretical or conceptual points. For example, I tend to emphasize that in many cases, possession is more of a conclusion than it is a fact of the matter. I also tend to teach the bundle of rights model of understanding property. Both of these are contestable positions, and their acceptance can lead to certain normative conclusions. For example, Adam Mossoff has argued that the bundle of rights model has led to a weakening of property rights. If Adam is right, then we are leading students towards normative positions when we teach the bundle of rights approach.
All of this leads to the worry that how we frame issues in first-year property may shape student understanding in unpredictable ways. I’m not sure there is any way to avoid this, and I think that professors should feel free to teach from a particular point of view. Still, it makes me a bit unsettled.
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