Property rights: An analysis of their implications for understanding land rights in Australia

Janice Toner

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The debate over property rights in Australia is predicated on the argument of whether these rights are natural rights or positive rights. Natural rights are those that we hold by virtue of our humanity. The rights that are usually referred to and believed to be natural rights are those rights that we morally believe to be necessary for life to be just and equitable. We justify the existence of these rights because we use reason and conscience to convince ourselves that these rights are good. These rights are inalienable. Positive rights, on the other hand, are those that are given to us by some form of higher authority, be it a sovereign, a government, or a court. The scope of positive rights is much greater than that of natural rights as they are created to cater for social or legal issues at a particular point in time. The important thing about positive rights is that, because a human authority give them, they can also be removed by a human authority whether it be the same one that conferred them or a later version. The category into which property rights fall has been debated over centuries and continues to be debated today. Some authorities class property rights as natural rights, some as positive rights. This paper seeks to investigate this argument and clarify the issues surrounding the debate as part of a postgraduate research training program in development
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-84
Number of pages6
JournalExtension Farming Systems Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2005

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