Chapter 1

First way of acquiring Property: Occupation

by Adam Smith Icon

We divided acquired rights into:

  • personal
  • real
    • property,
    • servitude,
    • pledge, and
    • exclusive privilege.

1. Property

Property is acquired 5 ways:

  1. By occupation, or the taking possession of what formerly belonged to nobody.
  2. By accession, when a man has a right to one thing in consequence of another, as of a horse’s shoes along with the horse.
  3. By prescription, which is a right to a thing belonging to another arising from long and uninterrupted possession.
  4. By succession to our ancestors or any other person, whether by a will or without one.
  5. By voluntary transference, when one man delivers over his right to another.

Occupation varies according to the stages of human society which are hunting, pasturage, farming, and commerce.

People shipwrecked on a desert island will have to eat the native fruits and wild beasts there. These could not be sufficient to feed them always. They will have to tame some of the wild beasts. In time, even these would not be sufficient. They would have to plant crops. Hence agriculture arises. It requires a lot of refinement before it could become the prevailing employment of a country.

Some North American tribes cultivate a little piece of ground without the notion of keeping flocks.

The age of commerce naturally succeeds that of agriculture. Each person now has a specific commodity to make. They would naturally exchange the surplus of their own commodity for another that they needed. Occupations vary according to these stages .

When Does Possession Start?

Does the possession of a wild beast begin on its discovery, or in the actual posession of it?

Some lawyers think that the hunter who has first wounded a wild beast should be the possessor, even if he gives up the chase. Some think that the he is entitled to a share, since it made it easier to catch. All lawyers agree that it is a breach of property to break in on the chase of a wild beast which another has started.

Among savages, property begins and ends with possession by their own bodies.

Among shepherds, the idea of property is further extended. They possess what they carry, as well as what they have deposited in their hovels. They consider their cattle as their own. If they go away, they may be claimed for a certain time after they have strayed.

But property receives its greatest extension from agriculture. When it first became necessary to cultivate the earth, no person had any property in it. Their little plots would be common to the whole village. The fruits would be equally divided among the individuals. There are the remains of a common land property in our own country at this day. In many places, there is a piece of ground belonging equally to several persons.

Private landed property only begins after a division is made from common agreement. This generally happens when cities are being built when everyone would choose that his house should be entirely his own.

Moveable property may be occupied in the very first beginnings of society. But lands cannot be occupied without an actual division. An Arab or Tatar will drive his flocks over an immense country without thinking about who owns the land.

By the laws of many countries however, there are some things that cannot be occupied by any private person. By the laws of Britain, treasure and derelict goods belong to the king. This arises from that natural influence of superiors which draws everything to itself.

In like manner, seas and rivers cannot be occupied by any private person. Unless specified in your charter, you cannot take large fishes in a river running through your own estate.

A sea surrounded by several nations cannot be occupied by any one–all must have a part of the jurisdiction. But any nation may hinder another from fishing in its bays, or approaching its coasts with vessels of war.

Latest Articles

How to Fix Ukraine
How to Fix Ukraine
The Age of the Universe
The Age of the Universe
Material Superphysics
The End of Capitalism (and Marxism)
The End of Capitalism (and Marxism)
The Elastic Theory of Gravity
The Elastic Theory of Gravity
Material Superphysics

Latest Simplifications

Nova Organum by Francis Bacon
Nova Organum by Francis Bacon
The Analects by Confucius
The Analects by Confucius
The Quran by The Prophet Mohammad
The Quran by The Prophet Mohammad

All Superphysics principles in our books

The Simplified Series

Developing a new science and the systems that use that science isn't easy. Please help Superphysics develop its theories and systems faster by donating via GCash