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Philosophical theories of property rights struggle to adequately explain the moral significance of ownership. We propose that the moral significance of property rights is due to the intersection of what we call "the extended self” and conventionally protected rights claims. The latter, drawing on conventionalist accounts of property rights, explains the social nature and flexibility of property. The former, drawing on naturalist theories, explains their personal nature. The upshot is that we find at this intersection the full moral significance of property.


This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Law and Philosophy, volume 42, in 2023 following peer review. The final publication may differ and is available at Springer via

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