chapter  8
13 Pages

“Owning Persons, Places, and Things”

WithMICHAEL OTSUKA

I believe that the fi rst correspondence I received from Hillel Steiner was an email in 1998 in which he generously praised a recently-published article of mine and added: ‘I hope it’s not presumptuous of me to say “Welcome to the wonderful world of left-libertarianism!”’ The piece (Otsuka 1998) that prompted this unpresumptuous welcome was left-libertarian in spirit, as it was an attempt to reconcile self-ownership with equality. I was not yet convinced, however, that I was a left-libertarian, so it was not clear at the time whether my exploration of this world was as a curious and sympathetic visitor or as someone who had just begun a period of permanent residency. It turned out to be the latter, and Hillel deserves much of the credit for my settlement in this world that he had himself rediscovered in the 1970s and elegantly reshaped during the past three decades through his essays that lead up to, constitute, and develop and extend his marvellous Essay on Rights (Steiner 1994).