Few political ideas are as divisive and controversial for some – and yet taken for granted by others – as the ownership of private property. For its defenders, private ownership is a fundamental right that protects individual freedom and ensures wider economic benefits for the community; for its critics, by contrast, property is institutionalised theft, responsible for lamentable levels of inequality and poverty.

In this book, Robert Lamb explores philosophical arguments deployed to conceptualise, justify, and criticise private property ownership. He introduces the radical case against property advanced by anarchist and socialist writers, before analysing some of the most important and influential arguments in its favour. Lamb explains and assesses the various defences of property rights advanced by Locke, Hume, Hegel, J. S. Mill, and Nozick. He then shows how theorists such as John Rawls and his followers encourage us to rethink the very nature of ownership in a democratic society.

This engaging synthesis of historical and contemporary theories of property will be essential reading for students and scholars of political philosophy.

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  • January 2021
  • 176 pages
  • 138 x 221 mm / 5 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $59.95
  • 9781509519194
  • Paperback $19.95
  • 9781509519200
  • Open eBook $16.00
  • 9781509519231
About the Author
Robert Lamb is Professor of Political Philosophy at the University of Exeter.
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In addressing the most influential theories of property to have emerged over the last four centuries, Robert Lamb captures a complex body of arguments into a concise, accessible, and yet sophisticated book. The result is an impressive and valuable achievement.
Daniel Halliday, The University of Melbourne

In his magisterial tour through the history of philosophical theories of property, Robert Lamb presents a perspicuous map of the territory, and a lucid account of how we can think more clearly about property rights and their implications. This book will be an invaluable resource for students and researchers in political philosophy and political theory, as well as being of interest and value to citizens thinking about politics.  
Martin O'Neill, University of York

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