Private property

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In a private property system, property rules are organized around the idea that various contested resources are assigned to the decisional authority of particular individuals (or families or firms).

The person to whom a given object is assigned (e.g., the person who found it or made it) has control over the object: it is for her to decide what should be done with it. In exercising this authority, she is not understood to be acting as an agent or official of the society. She may act on her own initiative without giving anyone else an explanation, or she may enter into cooperative arrangements with others, just as she likes. She may even transfer this right of decision to someone else, in which case that person acquires the same rights she had. If Jennifer owns a steel factory, it is for her to decide (in her own interest) whether to close it or to keep the plant operating, even though a decision to close may have the gravest impact on her employees and on the prosperity of the local community.[1]


  1. Waldron, Jeremy. "Property and Ownership", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2010 Edition). Referenced 2012-01-28.