Ariadne's Thread on Property

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On Property

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Professor Sidgwick Speaking

Good morning!

We're here today for another dialog. It will be short this time, I promise you. But I think it will be important.

We argue constantly these days about the proper role of government, the proper extent of regulation, and the proper level of taxation. On the one hand there are those who believe that both the scope of government and level of taxation should be minimized. On the other hand there are those who believe that the government should be quite active in solving social problems and that taxes, especially on the rich, should be much higher. Problem solving costs money.

We have been arguing about this sort of thing for a long time and I don't think we will settle it today. But I do think we can bring out some of the questions and arguments related to one of the most fundamental points at issue: the nature of property and property rights. I know that you talked about this some in our dialog on justice, but I want you to say more. I think this issue is crucially important to a degree that most Americans don't recognize.

You have all read John Locke, John Rawls, Robert Nozick and some of their critics. What do you think?

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