The Metaphysics of Real Estate
Barry Smith (University at Buffalo)
Leonardo Zaibert (University of Wisconsin at Parkside)
of revised version
(published in Topoi, 2001, 20: 2, 2001, 161-172)
The parceling of land into real estate is more than a simple geometrical affair. Real estate is a historical product of interaction between human beings, political, legal and economic institutions, and the physical environment. And while many authors, from Jeremy Bentham to Hernando de Soto, have drawn attention to the ontological (metaphysical) aspect of property in general, no comprehensive analysis of landed property has been attempted. The paper presents such an analysis and shows how landed property differs from other types of property in a way which implies a special role for political and economic philosophy of property rights in land.