Full text: Semantics of ownership

In many ways, social life is bounded by property and 
rules of ownership. People generally know what-they own and 
what they do not own, they know how to limit their behavior 
accordingly, and they expect others to know and do the same. 
Disagreements over ownership do arise, and societies have 
adjudicating systems to settle such disputes. Typically, 
within nation states, the rules of ownership are spelled out 
in codes of law and in jurisprudence. In some societies, 
the principles of ownership have been further analyzed and 
elaborated upon by political philosophers and political 
economists. (See NaePherson, 1978a, for a sampling of 
European and American essays.) Although the rules of 
ownership may be explicitly spelled out in law, legal 
tradition, and scholarly tracts, they must also be implicit 
in the thinking and in the judgements of the individuals of 
the society. Certainly the vast majority of property 
relat {onships in any society never need appeal to formal 
adjudication. Ownership, if it is anything, is orderly, 
rule-governed social behavior. Further, it may happen that 
the more formal and explicit conceptions of ownership 
conflict with the culturally and behaviorally real 
_ ceptions of ownership found in the general population. 
Hahm (1963) documented a situation in Korea in which 
squatters, land owners, and entorcing police officers alike

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