Francisco Morales, ‘The Property Matrix: An Analytical Tool to Answer the Question, “Is This Property?”’

“When we see an object, a laptop sitting on a library desk, or a parcel of land, we have no difficulty recognizing that someone probably owns it. Most people in our society (save, perhaps, for legal scholars and thieves) instinctively perceive tangible objects as property and appreciate the concomitant responsibilities imposed on owners and the public. In other words, trespasser-George knows best not to take the computer from the desk, or to walk onto fenced-off land without permission — the duties (or obligations) that property imposes on him. Owner-Mary knows that she is entitled to do with her land as she pleases (within reasonable limitations set by the State) — her privileges as a property holder. Mary also knows that she has unique recourses against George, were George to interfere with her property — her rights as an owner. Thus, property serves as a signaling device that informs the holder and all others how to interact with the thing …” (more)

Francisco J Morales, ‘The Property Matrix: An Analytical Tool to Answer the Question, “Is This Property?”University of Pennsylvania Law Review (2013) 161: 1125.

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