Full text: Ownership as interpersonal dominance

social rules of ownership and to adjudication by civil authority which, however, was legitimized 
by reasonableness rather than by power, as with Hobbes. 
Locke similarly argued that property in the natural state was based on reason and not on 
power. He presented cognitive arguments and cited ethnographic evidence to support this. 
Locke's classic theory of property was an amalgamation from several sources. Grotius had 
been arguing that the natural state of man was the Garden of Eden, which he compared to the 
communal, simple conditions of the American Indians (Schlatter, 1951). By the seventeenth 
century, such theologically biased representations of American native peoples as idyllic “Noble 
Savages” had become widespread (Bidney, 1954; Bilodeau & Gagnon, 1986; Kennedy, 1950; 
Schlesinger & Stabler, 1987). There was no longer need to refer to a mythical or hypothetical 
natural state, when there existed real primitive societies in which resources were abundant, 
ownership was communal, and society was orderly without any civil power or monarch. 
The labour theory of property was also being revived, particularly in the writings of 
Overton, an English contemporary of Hobbes and a Puritan Leveller (Schlatter, 1951). He 
equated the self with the body: 
...for anyone as he is himself hath a self propriety -else he could not be himself- and on this 
no second may presume without consent; and by natural birth all men are equal, and like 
born to like property and freedom. (Overton in Schlatter, 1951. p. 133) 
Locke was to take the labour theory expressed here by Overton and earlier by John of 
Paris and Fortescue, combined with the traditional Roman theory of appropriation from nature, 
combined with the emerging ethnographies of North American Indians, to present his classic 
argument that private property is natural and justified by reason: 
The fruit or venison which nourishes the wild Indian, who knows no enclosure and is still a 
tenant in common, must be his, and so his, i.e., a part of him, that-another can no longer 
have any right to it before it can do him any good for the support of life. 
Though the earth and all inferior creatures be common to all men, yet every man has 
a property in his own person; this nobody has any right to but himseif. The labor of the body 
and the work of the hands, we may say, are properly his. Whatsoever then he removes out 
of the state that nature had provided and left in it, he has mixed his labor with, and joined 
it to something that is his own, and thereby makes it his property. (Locke, 1690/1 952, p. 17) 
in psychological terms, private property is based on the active powers of a person joining the 
property to oneself. Milam (1967) has argued that Locke’s theory of property is apiece with his 
theory of perception. Just as the secondary perceptual properties belong to objects because 
they are caused by the powers of the objects, so too do economic properties belong to the 
person whose active powers appropriated them from nature:

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