Common Ownership and Equality of Autonomy

Article excerpt

In recent years, common ownership has enjoyed unprecedented favour among policy-makers and citizens in the United States, Canada, and Europe. Conservation land trusts, affordable-housing co-operatives, community gardens, and neighbourhood-managed parks are spreading throughout major cities. Normatively, these common-ownership regimes are seen as yielding a variety of benefits, such as a communitarian ethos in the efficient use of scarce resources, or greater freedom to interact and create in new ways. The design of common-ownership regimes, however, requires difficult trade-offs. Most importantly, successful achievement of the goals of common-ownership regimes requires the limitation of individual co-owners' ability to freely use the common resource, as well as to exit the common-ownership arrangement.

This article makes two contributions. First, at the normative level, it argues that common ownership has the potential to help foster greater "equality of autonomy". By "equality of autonomy", I mean more equitable access to the material and relational means that allow individuals to be autonomous. Second, at the level of design, this article argues that the difficult trade-offs of common-ownership regimes should be dealt with by grounding the commitment to equality of autonomy in the context of specific resources. In some cases, this resource-specific design helps to minimize or avoid difficult trade-offs. In hard cases, where trade-offs cannot be avoided, this article offers arguments for privileging greater equality of autonomy over full negative freedom.

Au cours de ces dernieres annees, la propriete commune a joui d'un avantage sans precedent aupres des decideurs politiques et des citoyens des Etats-Unis, du Canada et d'Europe. Le nombre de fiducies de preservation de terrains, de logements abordables, de cooperatives, de jardins communaux et de parcs geres par des quartiers est en croissance dans toutes les grandes villes. D'un point de vue normatif, ces regimes de proprietes communes impliquent de nombreux benefices, comme l'esprit communautaire de l'utilisation efficace de ressources peu abondantes, ou la plus grande liberte d'interagir et de creer de facons nouvelles. La conception du regime de propriete commune, cependant, demande des compromis difficiles. Plus important encore, pour atteindre avec succes les objectifs des regimes de propriete commune, il faut limiter la capacite des coproprietaires individuels a utiliser la ressource commune librement ainsi que celle de sortir de l'arrangement de propriete commune.

Cet article a deux roles. Premierement, au niveau nermatif, il presente l'argument que la propriete commune a le potentiel d'encourager une plus grande << egalite d'autonomie >>. Par << egalite d'autonomie >>, je veux dire un acces plus equitable aux moyens relationnels et materiels qui permettent a un individu detre autonome. Deuxiemement, au niveau de la conception, cet article avance que les compromis difficiles des regimes de propriete commune devraient etre geres en renforcant l'engagement a l'egalite d'autonomie dans le contexte de ressources specifiques. Dans certains cas, cette conception contextuelle pour les ressources specifiques aide a minimiser ou eviter de durs compromis. Dans les cas difficiles ou les compromis ne peuvent etre evites, cet article offre des arguments pour privilegier une plus grande egalite d'autonomie plutot que des libertes negatives completes.

Introduction

  I. The Commons Debate
     A. Antitragedy Views and the Benefits of Common
        Ownership
     B. The Fundamental Design Problem of Common
        Ownership: The Trade-Off Between Different
        Kinds of Freedom

 II. The Debate of Collective Ownership on Nineteenth-Century
        Europe
     A. Changing Attitudes Toward Collective Ownership
     B. The Italian Bill on the Reorganization of Land
        Collective and the Commitment to Equality of
        Autonomy
III. …