Progressive property theory presents a recent corrective to atomistic theories that isolate property interests from the network of relations and obligations arising from the sociality of organized human society. The ‘social obligation norm’ that underpins progressive property theory stretches back to Aristotle’s philosophy of eudemonia (‘human flourishing’ or ‘living well’) written in the 4th Century BC. But property is not timeless; the world has changed.
External shot of the front door leading into the institute of advanced study
The rise of global greenhouse gas emissions above pre-industrial levels is rapidly transforming the climate of the planet – presenting an existential crisis on a scale far greater than the individual, society or species. For millennia, Western theories of property, including progressive property, have been dominated by anthropocentric notions of law and land. However, the concept of community, central to progressive property theory, foregrounds and prioritizes both materiality and relationality, making possible a more viable theory of human-earth relations for the 21st Century. The arrival of the Anthropocene calls for a planetary understanding of ‘community’ that encompasses its disowned human and more-than-human members, whose work in capital’s shadow lands provide the conditions of modern Western proprietorship. ‘Living well’ through the 21st century will involve reframing social obligation as existential imperative in modelling a viable property regime.
The Lecture is free and open to all.
Dr Nicole Graham
IAS Fellow at Trevelyan College
Dr Nicole Graham is an Associate Professor at Sydney Law School, The University of Sydney, Australia.