William and Mary Law School

Moral Obligations of Landowners: An Examination of Doctrine

Stewart E. Sterk

Efficiency concerns generally take center stage in modern discussions of property’s institutional foundations. But property’s moral dimension has a far longer pedigree. Two of the ten commandments implicitly acknowledge the importance of property. “Thou shalt not steal” has no meaning in the absence of property ownership. Similarly, the command that “thou shalt not covet your neighbor’s house” assumes that the house has an owner whose rights merit respect.

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2 BRIGHAM-KANNER PROPERTY RIGHTS CONF. J. 135 (2013)