Rutherforth on Locke

Here’s a bit more, with similar editing principles as in earlier instalments.

[p.57] “In Mr. Locks opinion, property in immoveable goods, such as the earth or soil, is acquired in the same manner and is governed by the same measure, as property in moveable goods.

“As much land as a man tills, plants, improves, cultivates, and can use the product of, so much is his property. He by his labour does, as it were, enclose it from the common.”

But what is this again, but the exercise of a common right, instead of such an exclusive right as property is. For not to insist here upon the limitation of having property only in so much land, as we can use; let us try the effects of this right, and see whether they are the same with the effects of property. Suppose then, that the man, after he has for some time tilled the land, and cultivated it, was either by age or sickness to become incapable of tilling and cultivating it any longer: if the mixing his labour with it was his whole title to it; when his labour ceases, his title to the land must cease with it; the land can be his no longer, than he can cultivate it; and when he is disabled for labouring, he cannot sell or let it to any other person: that is, it was his to labour in, but not his to dispose of as he pleases: and consequently his right could only be a right to use, and not an exclusive right of property. This Mr. Lock might have been sensible of, if he had attended [to] his own reasoning.

“He, say this author, that in obedience to the command of God, to improve the earth to the benefit of life, tilled and sowed any part of it, thereby annexed to it something, that was his property, which another had no title to, nor could, without injury, take from him. Nor was this appropriation of any parcel of [p.58] land, by improving it, any prejudice to any other man, since there was still enough, and as good left, and more than the yet unprovided for could use.”

If then his title to the land, which he occupies, rests upon this principle, that there was enough for others, besides what he had taken for his own use; it is plane that, unless there had been enough for others, his title would not have been a good one: and from hence it follows, that all his title is no more than a common right to use what he wants, and no an exclusive right of property: because the right of property does not at all depend upon the convenience of others.

Just one more paragraph to go — but it’s a long ‘un.

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