But Anyone Can Mix Their Labor: A Reply to Cheneval

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Francis Cheneval has recently argued that people have property rights over personal data about themselves. Until now, the discussion on data ownership has primarily been a discussion among legal theorists and economists. Cheneval contribution to the discussion is a very welcome input from academic philosophy. Cheneval attempts to reach his conclusion through two distinct strategies. One strategy is to reach the conclusion through a Lockean inspired libertarian rights-based theory of property. The second strategy is to reach his conclusion through a Rawlsian account of distributive justice. According to Cheneval, his conclusion can be reached both ways. In this reply, I will focus exclusively on Cheneval argument that people have Lockean inspired libertarian property rights over personal data. I will offer an objection, which– if correct –demonstrates demonstrates how Cheneval Lockean argument runs into a dilemma.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCritical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)276-285
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 22 Mar 2021


  • Data Ownership
  • Property Rights
  • Data protection
  • John Locke


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