Why Private Property? II

Oxford, 10-11 May 2021

About the conference

How does the ecological crisis challenge contemporary theories of property?

The ecological crisis repeatedly announced by the IPCC invites us to rethink why private property is legitimate. Resource exploitation based on the concentration in a few hands of private property rights has shown its problems. Since the capitalist mode of production is unable to generate the limitation mechanisms needed to contain the ecological crisis announced for nearly forty years, it is time to rethink the legitimacy of the institution of private property that constitutes its basis, or alternatively to consider other options in terms of property rights.

This question arises with even more importance as the classical representation of private property as an absolute right is based on the contrast between the common and the private that is also called into question by modern developments in the organization of productive activities, as exemplified by current debates on externalities. Any appropriated thing remains part of a wider environment on which it has an impact, so that it can affect features of that environment that are traditionally seen as common (right to clean air, to an healthy environment, to safe and clean water, etc.). This opposition between the private and the common therefore seems increasingly arbitrary and inappropriate to think the complexity and the multiplicity of relations between things involved in the production process. In this conference, we want to bring together political theorists, economists, and sociologists or lawyers to think about how the ecological crisis forces theory contemporary politics to rethink the question of private property.

Keynote speakers

Simon Caney

Professor in Political Theory – University of Warwick
Simon Caney is Professor in Political Theory at the University of Warwick. His work covers a wide range of topics including global poverty, equality, climate change, our obligations to future generations, the social discount rate, liberal neutrality, political perfectionism, multiculturalism, human rights, and democratic theory.

Catherine Colliot-Thélène

Professeur agrégée de philosophie – Université de Rennes I
Catherine Colliot-Thélène est professeur agrégée de philosophie à l’Université de Rennes I. Spécialiste de Max Weber, ses travaux s’inscrivent dans le domaine de la philosophie politique, la philosophie de l’histoire et la sociologie. Elle est entre autres l’auteur de La Démocratie sans demos.

Catherine Larrère

Professeur émérite – Université de Paris I-Panthéon-Sorbonne
Catherine Larrère est Professeur émérite à l’Université de Paris I-Panthéon-Sorbonne. Spécialiste de philosophie morale et politique, d’histoire de l’économie et de Montesquieu, elle s’intéresse aux questions éthiques et politiques liées à la crise environnementale et aux nouvelles technologies.

Stuart White

Professor in Politics – University of Oxford
Stuart White teaches political theory at the University of Oxford. His research interests include normative political theory, public policy and the history of political thought. He is interested in egalitarianism (and its application) and in political anti-capitalist and anti-authoritarian forms of socialism.

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