The most common modern understanding of property

1. Material understanding of property – as people’s attitude to things, including money.

Most often, such an understanding of property can be found in the literature of developed Western countries. Thus, one of the coryphaei of the theory of “economics” P. Samuelson believes that property is the possession of the goods or sums of money. Other prominent representatives of the same scientific direction K.R. Makkonnell and S.L. Brue characterize the property as the disposal of material resources. Such an understanding of the issue began to be adopted by Russian social scientists.

According to G.I. Cherkasov fallibility of such reasoning is mainly that voluntarily or not the purely social content of property relations is denied, as they include some things, objects. Meanwhile, the relationship by its real nature can only be interpersonal. Where there are no relationships between people, there is no property. 

2. Legal interpretation of property.

It has a dominant and extremely wide spreading in social sciences.

In foreign social science it is characterized in this way, even in relation to the economic sphere.

Typical in this respect are the statements of American economists: “Property is the fundamental and inalienable human right. This concept refers to a set of rights”. 

In the twentieth century there has become a tradition to define the property as a “bundle of rights”. Oxford University professor Tony Honer made a detailed study of the parts of the bundle (consisting of eleven items): use the thing and exclude its use by others; change its shape and structure, use the fruit born by it, including income; and, last but not least, transfer its ownership to others. Honer adds that in various legal systems ownership means almost the same thing.

According to G.I. Cherkasov “solely legal understanding of property is also illegal, but it is a step forward compared to its objectified interpretation, because here it is still characterized as human, social relations”.

In the Ukrainian legal science the notion of property and property rights is paid a lot of attention.

According to the opinion of authors group of Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, published in 1999 a textbook “Civil Law of Ukraine”, in the most generalized form property can be defined as the relationship between people on the appropriation of wealth and the establishment of power over them, their belonging to a particular person.

Based on the opinion of the founders of Marxism-Leninism, they believe that “property is possible only in human society, which is situated at a certain stage of its development”, “the society reaching of such a stage may be indicated by the ability of people to enter into the production process in order to appropriate the means of production and products of work and meet their needs”, “for the isolated individual the appropriation does not matter, because he is deprived of both opportunity and need to enter into relations with other individuals similar to him”, “a fundamental principle of all forms of property from the primitive to the socialist community is economic relations of appropriation of material goods in the production process”, “property in this sense is its economic understanding”, “economic relations of property that exist in general out of the will and consciousness of people, may be the object of legal regulation, getting the corresponding form in the law”, “in this case, there is the legal content of the property”, “relations of property right are derived from the economic relations of property” (p. 294-295).

Ukrainian supporters of diversity of property categories believe that property, in addition to economic and legal content has other aspects of social life: social, political, psychological, cultural, ethical, etc.

3. Natural-biological notions of property (characteristic of property as a product of natural human nature).

Such biological approach to the issue at one time was developed by Russian philosopher I.A. Ilyin, explaining the appearance and operation of property by the presence of human instincts, especially the natural impulse to work.

According to G.I. Cherkasov “from a scientific point of view, property cannot be of natural, biological nature, since it is a purely social phenomenon. It also cannot have natural, biological origin, because in the final analysis it is generated by a variety of people’s social needs” (p.13, The General Theory of Property).

4. Religious-idealistic conception of property.
In many ways, it comes from the pre-revolutionary Russian philosophers and sociologists.
I.A. Berdyaev, for example, wrote, “The property, by its nature, is the beginning of spiritual, not material…”

The position of S.L. Frank, “A man is not a proprietor, but only a trustee of wealth, entrusted to him by God, and therefore has to dispose of it not in his own interests, but for the implementation of God’s truth on Earth”.
This issue is now understood in the same vein worldwide by theologists.

5. Multidimensional, mixed interpretation of property.
A number of Russian social scientists:
• include in content of property relations of two kinds: both between people, and between people and things. Though either of relations is considered equal. Everything is grounded by the fact that without the participation of people and things property cannot exist. The latter consideration is, of course, correct, but its conclusions give rise to doubts;

• include in its content also people’s relations towards themselves, grounding it by the fact that by the character and dimension of the appropriation of life benefits people assess their skills and abilities, their place and role in society, etc. However, self-esteem of a man belongs rather to the subjective psychological area where the property cannot be included;

• understand proprietor’s relationship as administrative-legal phenomenon (they are the supreme control of any helpful resources, thus, as a rule, the law is formulized and approved. However, the property by its content is not the same as management, which is always formed in a subjective manner (i.e., at discretion and will of people), and at more external level.

According to G.I. Cherkasov “mixed interpretation of property often suffers from eclecticism – attempt to combine not actually connecting phenomena and processes”.

Date: 25 February 2015

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