Syllabus for LS 140

Property and Liberty

Fall 2018


Professor Ben Brown


Reading assignments are from Perspectives on Property Law (PPL) or my Internet website:



Some assignments require visiting other Internet sites.



Thursday, August 23 – How Property Structures Personhood




PPL – 1-5, Erving Goffman, “Asylums: Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates.”

6-15, Margaret Jane Radin, “Property and Personhood.”


Class 1 – Introduction to the course, explain the written/oral assignment. The Importance of Property; Property and Personhood; Effective v. Efficient Property Regimes.



August 28 – August 30 – Origins of Property




PPL – 90-97, Papanek, “To Each Less than She Needs”

235 – 242, Ellickson, “Unpacking the Household: Informal Property Rights Around the Hearth.”

36-41, John Locke, “Two Treatises of Government”

29-35, William Blackstone, “Commentaries on the laws of England.”

Website – Locke, expanded reading

Read Pride and Prejudice Vol. 1, chap. 13 – Arrival of Mr. Collins, by following the hyperlink above;

In Vol. 1, chap. 13, find the hyperlink “entailed away from your own children” and read about entail;

Read Vol. 1, chap. 19 –Elizabeth rejects Mr. Collins’s proposal;

Read Vol. 1, chap. 22 – Charlotte Lucas accepts Mr. Collins’s proposal;

In Vol. 1, chap 22, find the hyperlink “honourable provision for well-educated young women of small fortune” for a discussion of why Miss Lucas accepted the proposal.


Class 2 – Feminism and Property in Pride and Prejudice; Property and family relations.


Class 3 – Locke and the labor theory of property; Blackstone and the Common Law of Property.



September 4 - 6 – Property and Inequality




PPL – 42-51, Hume, A Treatise on Human Nature.

16-28, Carol M. Rose, “Property as Storytelling: Perspectives from Game Theory, Narrative Theory, Feminist Theory.”

Website – Rousseau

Internet – Property in Eve Online:


Class 4 – Hume and Rose on who owns Property in an MMO-RPG?


Class 5 – Rousseau’s critiques of individual property rights – Establishing the ongoing dispute.



September 11 - 13 – Property and Capitalism




Website – Karl Marx, “Communist Manifesto;” John Stuart Mill, excerpt from Principles of Political Economy; Henry George, excerpt from “Progress and Poverty,” “Ode to Liberty


Class 6 – Property and Markets – Smith and the Classical Economics, Karl Marx rejects Property.


Class 7 – 19th Century Critiques of Markets – John Stuart Mill and Henry George.


September 18 - 20 – Colonialism





PPL – 180-189, Carol M. Rose, “Possession as the Origin of Property.”

321-335, Stuart Banner, “Two Properties, One Land: Law and Space in 19th-Century New Zealand.”


Website – Paul Finkelman, “Batter Up;” Trial court decision in Popov v. Hayashi;; Treaty of Waitangi; Johnson v. McIntosh.


Class 8 – Possession as the basis of property. Colonialism and Real Property in New Zealand.


Class 9 – How the Indians Lost their land.


September 25 – 27 – Colonialism, continued; Slavery and Property




PPL – none

Website – Dawes Act; Somerset v. Stewart; Bryan v. Walton; State v. Mann; State v. Boyce.

Internet – John Belton ONeall “Negro Law of South Carolina” chapter 2 pp. 17 -28 found at:


Class 10 – Using Property to destroy culture: Dawes Act.


Class 11 – Group 1 – Valerie Martin, Property.



October 2 - 4 – Race and Property after Slavery



PPL 243-250, Penalver and Katyal, Property Outlaws.

Carol Rose, “Property Law and the Rise, Life, and Demise of Racially Restrictive Covenants;” Bell v. Maryland.


Class 12 – American Law of Slavery.


Class 13 – Group 2  – Christopher Schmidt, The Sit-ins: Protests and Legal Change in the Civil Rights Era.



October 9 - 11 – Income Equality in the 20th Century




PPL – 52-63, Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom

83-90, John Rawls, A Theory of Justice

292-303, Albert O Hirscham, “Rival Interpretations of Market Society: Civilizing, Destructive, or Feeble.”

Website – William Graham Sumner, What Social Classes Owe to Each Other;

Mark Roe, “Backlash.

Thorstein Veblen, Theory of the Leisure Class.

InternetJohn Cassady review of Thomas Piketty Capital in the Twenty-first Century:


Class 13 – Property and Status


Class 14 -Economic Inequality in the 20th Century – Roe, Rawls and Piketty




October 16 - 18 – The Tragedy of the Commons –

Do communal use systems always lead to inefficiencies?




PPL – 99-106, Garret Hardin, “The Tragedy of the Commons.”

112-120, Demsetz, “Toward a Theory of Property Rights.”

139-148, Smith, “Semi-Common Property Rights and Scattering in the Open Fields.”

107-112, James M. Acheson, “The Lobster Gangs of Maine.”

225-234, Robert Axelrod, “The Evolution of Cooperation.”

Internet – Elinor Ostrom youtube clip:


Class 15 – Midterm on October 16


Class 16 –The Tragedy of the Commons; The Tragedy of the Commons Critiqued



October 24 - 26 –Law and Economics Analysis and Property;

Are Markets Rational?




PPL – 173-80, Ronald H. Coase, “The Problem of Social Cost.”

322-328, Richard A. Posner, Economic Analysis of Law

181-90, Robert C. Ellickson, Order without Law: How Neighbors Settle Disputes

190-200, Joseph Henrich, et al., “Behavioral Experiments in 15 Small-Scale Societies

Internet – Dan Ariely Ted Talk:

Dan Pink:


Class 17 – Ronald Coase and Efficiency Analysis. Critiques of Coase Theorem.


Class 18 – Group 3 – George Akerlof, Robert Shiller, Phishing for Phools.



October 30 – November 1 – Government Regulation and Property Rights




PPL – 410-418, Joseph L. Sax, “The Public Trust Doctrine in Natural Resource Law: Effective Judicial Intervention.”

Website – Pennsylvania Coal Co. v. Mahon, Just v. Marinette County.


Class 19 – How severely can the government regulate the use of property before it must pay compensation to the owner? Government Regulation and the Environment.


Class 20 – Group 4 – Patrick Beach – A Good Forest for Dying.  



November 6 - 8 –Environmentalism and Eminent Domain




Website – Kelo v. New London, Conn.; Charles Reich, excerpt from “The New Property;” Goldberg v. Kelly.


Class 21 – Eminent domain and local control of environmental measures. Oregon Prop 37 and Prop 49, Post-Kelo propositions.


Class 22 – Charles Reich, “The New Property.” Government entitlements as Property



November 13 - 15 – The Internet and Public Goods –

Should the Internet be an open-access commons?



PPL - 131-139, Michael A. Heller and Rebecca S. Eisenberg, “Can Patents Deter Innovation? The Anticommons in Biomedical Research.”

419-428, Robert P. Merges, “Property Rights Theory and the Commons: The Case of Scientific Research.”


Class 23 – An Introduction to Public Goods; Patents, Copyright and Intellectual Property.


Class 24 – Group 5 – Lawrence Lessig, Remix.


November 20 – Homelessness



Internet – Denver’s Road Home program:


Class 25 – Homelessness and Community


Thursday, November 22 – Happy Thanksgiving



November 27 – November 29 – Organizing the Internet and Internet Piracy





Lawrence Lessig, Free Culture, Read chapter 5 on piracy and property


Class 26 – Organizing the Internet – Cooperation versus Competition. Is Internet piracy a social good or a social evil?


Class 27 – Net Neutrality; Review for Final


Final Exam – Wednesday, DECEMBER 12, 2018, 8-11 a.m.