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Prehistoric Myths in Modern Political Philosophy$
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Karl Widerquist and Grant S. McCall

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780748678662

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748678662.001.0001

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John Locke and the Hobbesian Hypothesis: How a Similar Colonial Prejudice Became an Essential Premise in the Most Popular Justification of Private Property Rights

John Locke and the Hobbesian Hypothesis: How a Similar Colonial Prejudice Became an Essential Premise in the Most Popular Justification of Private Property Rights

Chapter:
(p.65) Chapter 4 John Locke and the Hobbesian Hypothesis: How a Similar Colonial Prejudice Became an Essential Premise in the Most Popular Justification of Private Property Rights
Source:
Prehistoric Myths in Modern Political Philosophy
Author(s):

Karl Widerquist

Grant S. McCall

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748678662.003.0004

This chapter introduces the role of “the Hobbesian hypothesis” (the claim that “the Lockean proviso” is fulfilled) in the natural rights justification of private property by discussing John Locke’s use of it in his “appropriation” theory. The chapter defines the property-theory version of “the Lockean proviso” as the claim that everyone is better off in a society with private ownership of land and natural resources than they could reasonably expect to be in any society in which land remains a commons as it was for many small-scale stateless peoples in history and prehistory. The chapter defines the property-theory version of “the Hobbesian hypothesis” as the empirical claim that the Lockean proviso is fulfilled by the property rights system: even the least advantage people under the private property system are better off than they could reasonably expect to be in a small-scale society with common land. It argues that any plausible natural rights justification of the private property system relies on this hypothesis as an empirical premise comparing the welfare of disadvantaged people in societies with a well-develop private property system and people in small-scale, stateless societies that treat land as a commons.

Keywords:   State of nature, Lockean proviso, Hobbesian hypothesis, Property (property rights theory), John Locke, Libertarian (-ism), Propertarian (ism), Appropriation (theory), Statelessness (stateless people)

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