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The Reconstitution of Property: Property as a Web of Interests
Harvard Environmental Law Review (2002)
  • Craig Anthony (Tony) Arnold
The metaphor of property as a "bundle of sticks: or "bundle of rights" leads to the "disintegration of property": a concept of property that is too incoherent, ill-defined, and malleable to be meaningful. This article identifies several theoretical problems with the bundle of rights metaphor, and proposes a new metaphor of property as a web of interests.
The "web of interests" metaphor describes property as interests - including responsibilities, as well as rights - that people, groups, and entities share in objects of those interests (whether tangible or intangible objects). These interests vary with the nature or characteristics of the object, which is at the center of the web. The object's specific characteristics matter both legally and socially. The article identifies 15 different legally relevant categories of object characteristics, as well as 9 strands of connection in the web's relationships.
  • bundle of rights,
  • land use,
  • regulatory takings,
  • public trust,
  • natural use,
  • nuisance,
  • right to exclude,
  • land ethics,
  • object characteristics,
  • social relationships
Publication Date
Citation Information
Craig Anthony (Tony) Arnold. "The Reconstitution of Property: Property as a Web of Interests" Harvard Environmental Law Review Vol. 26 Iss. 2 (2002) p. 281
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