Master of Arts
Date of Defense
Jill B. Delston
Libertarians, such as Robert Nozick, have often appealed to Locke’s labor theory as the basis in which to defend full ownership rights to property. My central claim is that this is a mistake. Locke, I argue, is not a comfortable libertarian bedfellow for the following three reasons. (1) Locke’s account of property neither implies rights to full ownership, nor was Locke himself committed to the view. (2) The conditions Locke's labor theory places on property rights would generate a state that more closely aligns with the welfare state than the libertarian minimal state. (3) Even when we ignore Locke’s theological commitments—commitments that tend to support (1) and (2)—and operationalize his labor theory on secular grounds, full ownership rights would not follow. I conclude that if libertarians are serious about defending rights to full ownership, it's unlikely to be found in Locke.
Dimond, Garrett, "Uncomfortable Bedfellows: Locke and the Libertarian Theory of Property" (2015). Theses. 267.