Property is a thing or things belonging to someone. Specifically, it is a physical and tangible object owned by an individual or jointly by a group of individuals. Property can also be referred to as possessions, belongings, things, effects, stuff, gear, chattels, movables, resources, assets, valuables, fortune, capital, riches, wealth, buildings, premises, houses, land, estates, realty, or real estate.
Property is derived from the following process:
- Self-Ownership/Individual Sovereignty — Each individual owns/has sovereignty over their body, and hence their life and liberty (the effects of their body). This is an exclusive claim (or right). Consequently, if one owns the effects of their body, they can own objects external to it.
- Creation — This is done by transforming unowned natural resources with labour (an effect of the body) into property. Part of the individual (time, effort, talents) becomes part of the property. Property is an extension of the individual and is therefore an exclusive claim (or right). Someone who creates property is an owner.
There are various valid uses of property, however they can be condensed into four general categories:
- Enjoyment — The owner uses property in a manner that is consistent with their values and desires without interference from others. For the enjoyment of their property to be valid it must not interfere with the exclusive claims (or rights) of others.
- Exchange — The owner engages in the mutually beneficial trading of property for the property of others. Each party to the trade assigns the exclusive claim of their property to the other party. For an exchange to be valid it must be a conscious, voluntary decision by both parties.
- Charity — The owner’s exclusive claim to property is gifted to another individual without receiving anything in return. For the charity to be valid it must be a conscious, voluntary decision by the giving party.
- Abandonment — The owner’s exclusive claim to property is abandoned for others to make their own exclusive claim. For the abandonment to be valid it must be a conscious, voluntary decision. It would be preferable that abandonment be made clear in writing to avoid possible legal disputes over property claims.
A violation of property is an invalid use of property. A violation generally consists of either occupation or theft and as such amounts to retrospective slavery. This is the case because the owner’s exclusive claim to property is violated by an individual taking possession of the property without voluntary consent from the owner. An individual who takes unjust possession of property claims ownership not only to the property in question but also to the individual they took it from. This is true because part of the rightful owner’s life has been mixed with the property and part of that life is claimed through unjust possession of property.