chapter  8
22 Pages

Social and Political Philosophy

Locke claims it is thegathering of the acorns and apples that makes them his, thus articulating the principle that one owns the results of one’s labor: by doing something to what occurs in nature, you make it your private property; until then, it is common property. But if until then the acorns and apples were common property, should he have obtained the consent of others before he gathered them-“Was it a robbery thus to assume to himself what belonged to all in common?” (414). (See “Hardin’s Tragedy of the Commons.”)

And what of land ownership? If someone buys the land with the oak and apple trees on it, does that person therefore own the acorns and apples? He or she has “done” nothing-neither planted the trees nor, let’s assume, taken care of them in any way. Can land be purchased and thus owned according to Locke’s view? And if so, even so, do the acorns and apples belong to the people who actually take care of the trees (instead of whoever “owns” the land)?