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Property Law and Real Estate

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2000

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Three Faces Of Private Property, Michael A. Heller Jan 2000

Three Faces Of Private Property, Michael A. Heller

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Private property is a rather elusive concept. Any kid knows what it means for something to be mine or yours, but grownup legal theorists get flustered when they try to pin down the term. Typically they, actually we, turn to a familiar analytic toolkit: including, for example, Blackstone's image of private property as "sole and despotic dominion"; Hardin's metaphor of the "tragedy of the commons"; and, more generally, the division of ownership into a trilogy of private, commons, and state forms. While each analytic tool has a distinguished pedigree and certain present usefulness, each also imposes a cost because it …