Full text: Semantics of ownership

> 2 
that Possession, Assertion and Territoriality were the most 
highly valued of the criteria, if the acquisition criteria 
were discounted. 
The concern is why means of acquisition are so highly 
valued when explicit judgements about ownership are involved 
but not with implicit judgements. By way of speculation, it 
may be that explicit judgements are concerned with disputed 
claims of ownership, whereas with the implicit tasks used 
here, no ownership disputes were introduced. Roth & Shoben 
(1983) have shown that context has a marked effect on 
semantic structure. The explicit Judgeneals may be 
reflecting concerns with the quality of evidence in the 
context of an ownership dispute. Means of acquisition are 
concerned with past situations, historical events which can 
be disputed via records and witnesses. Criteria involving 
present situations, such as Possession and Territoriality, 
cannot be readily disputed. An object is possessed or it is 
not. So when ownership disputes do arise, one party or the 
other will place the point of dispute in the past, where the 
issue will be the legitimacy of the means of acquisition of 
the object. By this line of reasoning, Possession would be 
the root criterion of ownership. Means of Acquisition are 
valued because disputes concerning possession must be 
transformed to the past to disputes concerning the origins 
of possession.

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