Property and Territorial Rights in Political Philosophy

Kim Angell

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/conference proceedingEncyclopedia chapterResearchpeer-review


To have property rights over X is to have rights to determine, in some respect, what shall happen to X, for example a piece of land. To have territorial rights is to have rights to make, enforce, and adjudicate the law within a geographical area. Property and territorial rights thus seem closely related, and philosophical accounts reveal various interesting connections between these bundles of rights—both in their nature and justification. A significant division, which we find in both old and new accounts—of property as well as territory—originates in the diverging political philosophies of John Locke and Immanuel Kant. Lockean accounts regard property and territorial rights as natural. People may acquire both without the prior existence of an adjudicating political authority. Kantian accounts, however, regard property rights as pure legal conventions. Non-existent outside civil society, they must be fully constructed by a state with territorial (jurisdictional) rights. Further divisions exist within Lockean and Kantian theories, and all the most prominent theories—of property as well as territorial rights—face significant unresolved philosophical challenges.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOxford research encyclopedia of politics : Politics
Number of pages25
PublisherOxford University Press
Publication dateJul 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019


  • property rights
  • conventional rights
  • natural rights
  • Kantian theories of territory
  • Lockean theories of territory
  • Immanuel Kant
  • John Locke
  • justification
  • concept
  • territorial rights

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