Peter M. Jaworski, M.A., M.Sc. Bowling Green State University Department of Philosophy 305 Shatzel Hall Bowling Green, OH, 43403 firstname.lastname@example.org
RESEARCH DOSSIER 2011
Peter M. Jaworski, M.A., M.Sc.
CONTENTS RESEARCH SPECIALIZATION
Research I am actively pursuing
Prospectus & Outline
The problem of the continuity of claims
Peter M. Jaworski, M.A., M.Sc.
RESEARCH SPECIALIZATION Research I am actively pursuing My primary research interests fall broadly within Social and Political Philosophy, including Philosophy of Law. In my dissertation, I try to explain why some things are unownable -- objects that are not “fit” or “open” to the ownership relation. I also defend the view that, given a Lockean justification of property, we probably lose our ownership claims as we become different persons, selves, or morally relevant metaphysical units over time. I have been conferencing several chapters of my dissertation, and am currently revising and submitting chapters for publication. In the near term, this will be my primary research work. I am also currently working on a book on Canadian Constitutional Interpretation with Scott Reid, a Member of Parliament, and Terrence Watson, a Philosophy PhD student. The book defends original public meaning originalism against, primarily, the “living tree” method of constitutional interpretation thought to be the dominant or main method of interpretation used by the Canadian Supreme Court. We have targeted this upcoming summer for a draft of the book, and we hope to have it published within the next two years by a university press.
Peter M. Jaworski, M.A., M.Sc.
Prospectus & Outline We teach them not to notice the different senses of the possessive pronoun, the finely graded differences that run from “my boots” through “my dog”, “my servant”, “my wife”, “my father”, “my master” and “my country”, to “my God”. They can be taught to reduce all these senses to that of “my boots,” the “my” of ownership. Even in the nursery a child can be taught to mean by “my Teddy-bear” not the old imagined recipient of affection to whom it stands in a special relation... but “the bear I can pull to pieces if I like.”... And all the time the joke is that the word “Mine” in its fully possessive sense cannot be uttered by a human being about anything... They will find out in the end, never fear, to whom their time, their souls, and their bodies really belong -- certainly not to them, whatever happens. - C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters All I can hear I me mine, I me mine, I me mine Even those tears I me mine, I me mine, I me mine
No one’s frightened of playing it Everyone’s saying it Flowing more freely than wine - The Beatles, I Me Mine
Peter M. Jaworski, M.A., M.Sc.
DISSERTATION Me, Myself & Mine: The scope of ownership
Purpose The purpose of my dissertation is to analyze the concept of ownership as one specific kind or species of “tenure” within a broadly Lockean tradition. This analysis will be primarily directed at the scope of ownership claims in terms of the objects that are “open” or “fit” for ownership, and the persistence of ownership claims across time. Situation My project is most broadly situated within, and primarily inspired by, the Lockean tradition. My dissertation does not, therefore, deal significantly with alternative possible ownership stories and justifications like those found in Hegel or various economic, utilitarian, or purely instrumentalist justifications and accounts of ownership. It is also restricted to physical, tangible property and does not deal with, nor seek to be a contribution to, discussions about intellectual or intangible property. Conclusion My conclusion is that the scope of legitimate ownership claims is (much) more narrow than what Lockean liberals tend to think. This is true of the particular claims justified by Locke’s labour-mixing argument, the temporal scope of ownership claims, and what objects or things ownership claims can range over. Structure The dissertation is structured as follows. It has three major parts. The first major part addresses itself to the Lockean labour view justification of property. There are two questions that I try to answer. The first is, what is the Lockean labour view? The second is, does the Lockean labour view prove what it aims to prove? To answer these questions, I analyze the metaphysical moves that Locke makes, and try to make them as plausible as possible. It turns out that we will have to abandon Locke’s metaphysical labour-mixing argument in favour of an alternative, but still broadly Lockean, argument. This first part is constructed out of four chapters. The second major part is constructed out of four (possibly five) chapters. It is motivated by a puzzle in Kant and Locke. Both Kant and Locke believe that we have authority over ourselves and our own affairs. They both believe that there are certain moral obligations that we have in virtue of being in this privileged position, but they disagree about whether 3
Peter M. Jaworski, M.A., M.Sc. or not we are self-owners. Locke thinks we are, while Kant thinks we are not. This is especially puzzling because both Kant and Locke appear to think that our obligations with respect to ourselves have the same content. To make the puzzle less puzzling, I introduce guardianship and stewardship as rival concepts to “ownership,” and provide a defense of what I call the no-new-reasons condition of ownership. The final major part takes aim at the application of ownership over time. I seek to answer one question. On Lockean-like, action-grounded claims to ownership, do our claims persist over time? In order to answer this question, I assume a reductionist account of personal identity, argue for either a self-based, or a person-based view of personal identity, and then demonstrate that on these plausible views it turns out that our ownership persists only on the condition that we continue to be responsible for the action that generated the claim in the first place. This second part is constructed out of five chapters. Part I: Lockean Ownership CHAPTER 1: The Lockean labour view In my first chapter, I introduce the standard Honoreian conception of ownership, as well as the standard Lockean labour view. I argue that the standard Lockean labour view is false. Section I sets out Locke’s labour view. Section II addresses several possible objections to the labour view. Those objections are objections against the conceptual coherence of the argument, against the metaphysical implications of the view, and foundational criticisms of the moral significance of labour and the moral significance of my relations with objects that are grounded in labour under certain conditions and circumstances. This section attempts to answer each of these objections in a Lockean spirit. These answers will include strange metaphysical moves. Section III raises further objections that are more significant since they cannot be squared with the labour view. Section IV, finally, addresses itself to the question of what is left of the labour view. CHAPTER 2: Labour as a canary In my second chapter, I argue that labour functions as an indicator of what matters. Labour does not, in itself, matter. It does, however, indicate the presence of what matters. What matters may be cares or concerns, that explain labouring activities, and give us reason to respect ownership claims of those with the relevant cares or concerns. Part II: Ownership, Guardianship, Stewardship Thesis Some things are not fit for an ownership relation. Some things just cannot be owned. Those things include any object that we have moral obligations to. Objects that we are obligated to treat in certain ways for the sake of the object. They include objects that we have moral obligations with respect to. Objects that we are obligated to treat in certain ways for the sake of relevant third parties. Since this exhausts what obligations we might have, it appears as though ownership comes with no new reasons -- to own something is to be morally at liberty to do with the owned object as one pleases. All 4
Peter M. Jaworski, M.A., M.Sc. apparent obligations on owners are not obligations qua owner, but background reasons or obligations that apply to everyone, including non-owners. CHAPTER 4: Ownership, Kantian & Honoreian In the first section, I remind the reader of Honore’s conception of ownership as well as the analysis that we took for granted in the first part. In the second section, I give reasons to think that Honore’s conception of ownership cannot adequately explain away Kant’s rival conception of ownership. Honore’s account of ownership includes a prohibition on the harmful use of owned objects. Jeremy Waldron discards this incident on the grounds that it has nothing essential to do with property -- it is, according to Waldron, a general background prohibition. In section three, I defend the no-new-reasons conception of ownership by borrowing the strategy in Waldron. In particular, I argue that the duty of care, a purported duty on owners qua owners, is really a general background prohibition, much like the duty not to use owned objects harmfully. CHAPTER 5: The guardianship relation In fact, and in this chapter, Kant’s conception of “ownership” is the best one to deal with the case of parents and children. In section four I attempt to give an analysis of just what disturbs us in the claim that a parent owns their child. What is disturbing are two incidents in the bundle of rights that constitute the Honore property bundle -- the power to transfer and the liberty to destroy. In addition, the parent-child relation necessarily includes an obligation to act “in the interest of” the child, an obligation that does not square with ownership. These three elements justify our pursuit of an alternative concept that captures all of these constitutive elements of the parent-child relation. Finally, I pursue the suggestion that this relation is better understood as one of “guardianship,” giving an analysis of the concept of guardianship. CHAPTER 6: Self-ownership Interestingly, and in this chapter, I explain that what disturbs in the suggestion that parents own their children is precisely what disturbs Kant -- the two incidents in Honore’s conception of “ownership” and the failure to include a moral obligation to act “in the interest of” the humanity-in-us. This overlap suggests that we should perhaps speak in terms of self-guardianship, rather than self-ownership, when we’re giving Kantian exegesis. Even if we are not Kantians, we may have reason to abandon talk of selfownership in general. This is the major task of this chapter, to persuade the reader that self-ownership is a category error. CHAPTER 7: Stewardship If we abandon self-ownership, then what do we say about the Lockean self-owner, or someone who disagrees that we have self-regarding obligations? I argue that selfstewardship may be a more felicitous rendering of Locke’s convictions, given the moral requirements on what we can do with ourselves according to Locke. I provide an analysis of the concept of stewardship, and suggest, that cultural artefacts may be exemplars of items or objects fit for the stewardship relation. As with guardianship, stewardship is a rival concept to both guardianship and ownership.
Peter M. Jaworski, M.A., M.Sc. Part III: Ownership Over Time
CHAPTER 3: Ownership over time Thesis: Ownership claims persist over time just in case you remain responsible for the action that grounds an ownership claim. Whether or not ownership claims persist over time is a problem for natural rights theorists, like Robert Nozick and John Locke, who adopt a Special Rights view of property. The Special Rights view of property requires moral responsibility for the claim-generating action not merely at the time of the action, but also over time. There are cases, however, when our responsibility for some action fades or is eliminated over time. Put differently, moral responsibility applies only within, and not across, morally relevant metaphysical units, and is commutative on all future temporal parts of the morally relevant metaphysical unit. We need a principle to cover the continuity of claims. I canvas the following possibilities for the morally relevant metaphysical unit: (1) Identity of living human being, (2) Identity of person, (3) Identity of self, and (4) Identity of momentary experiencer. I argue against (1), and insist that (4) is implausible without argument. (2) and (3) are both plausible, and one of these two options is most likely the truth. One possible way to avoid some of these problems for the natural rights theorist of property is to suggest that we implicitly or tacitly transfer what we own to all future “stages” of ourselves, or that we inherit property from earlier “stages” of ourselves. Whatever turns out to be the truth, I try to demonstrate that natural rights theories of property have a bit of work to do to iron out this particular problem.
Peter M. Jaworski, M.A., M.Sc.