What is the right to private property? What are its grounds? What is its scope and extent? In particular, do government regulation and taxation, as such, violate private property? These are contentious issues. At one end, for libertarians, property is itself foundational, hardly in need of any justification at all. Self-ownership, a property in one’s own body and mind, is considered the basis of all rights. At the other end, some claim that all property is theft; there can be no grounds that would justify the exclusive rights of some over resources that everyone could conceivably enjoy. In between, liberal egalitarians recognize a right to hold personal property. But what exactly such a right amounts to remains vague, if not in legal practice, at least in theory. To the question of whether taxation violates ownership, some respond simply “yes” (Nozick 1974; Epstein 1985), others simply “no” (Murphy and Nagel 2002) and yet others “no,” but it takes them a great deal of intellectual acrobatics to show that it doesn’t (Waldron 1988; Christman 1994; Fried 1995; cf. Attas 2006).
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