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Unpublished Paper
Ownership is Nine-Tenths of Possession: How Disparate Conceptions of Ownership Influence Possession Doctrines
ExpressO (2013)
  • Martin Hirschprung, University of Pennsylvania Law School
Abstract
Possession is nine-tenths of ownership. And yet, the concept of possession remains woefully unclear in the law, thereby rendering the very idea of ownership too somewhat murky. This Article argues that there exists a reflexive relationship between possession and ownership, and that one’s understanding of ownership and its incidents influence the very concept of possession, rather than vice-versa. The Article further argues that given this reality, the application of the concept of stewardship to question of possession can aid significantly in resolving some of the most important contemporary disputes regarding possession and ownership in society, such as disputes between museums and indigenous groups regarding cultural artifacts. In order to demonstrate the relationship between one’s conception of ownership and its attendant standard of possession, the Article contrasts different legal definitions of ownership with a religious model of ownership as stewardship to see how each leads to a different conception of possession. The effects of this reversal are observable in three doctrines related to possession; namely first possession, adverse possession, and deathbed bequests, which the Article then proceeds to unpack and analyze.
Publication Date
February 17, 2013
Citation Information
Martin Hirschprung. "Ownership is Nine-Tenths of Possession: How Disparate Conceptions of Ownership Influence Possession Doctrines" ExpressO (2013)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/martin_hirschprung/3/