4. Property Rights

As we have seen, according to libertarianism, state power is used justly only when it is used to protect individuals’ rights. And individuals have the right to do whatever they please so long as they don’t violate others’ rights. We also said that libertarians hold that individuals may acquire rights to property. Property may be land, buildings, money, stock, a car, a computer, clothing, etc. It is important to recognize that to possess a thing is not necessarily to own it. To have something in your possession is not necessarily to have a right to it. On the libertarian view, to own something is to have full control rights over it; this means having the right to do whatever you want with it: exclude others from it, use it, give it away, sell it, destroy it, etc. Of course, you are not allowed to violate anyone else’s rights with your property. If you have a property right over something – that is, if you own it – others have a coercible duty to not interfere with your control of it.

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