New York: Oxford University Press, 2020
230 pp. $35 (paperback)
Bart Wilson’s The Property Species is a witty, thought-provoking, sometimes frustrating book that offers what one might call an anthropology of private property. It’s not a book about “property rights,” Wilson insists, but about the origins of property as a cultural institution. Drawing on history, language, biology, and his own empirical research, Wilson seeks to correct some of the flaws of contemporary social science, one of which is the tendency of today’s academics to speak of “property rights” as synonymous with government-conferred privileges—a habit that, Wilson observes, “sucks out” the moral quality of these rights (61). . . .
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1. Rose Wilder Lane, The Discovery of Freedom (New York: John Day, 1943), 7.