Las Torres de Lucca. International Journal of Political Philosophy, Vol 2, No 2 (2013)

An Analysis of the Notions of Abundance and Slavery in Order to Rethink the Universal Range of Locke's Theory of Appropriation

Joan Severo Chumbita


Lockean theory of property in terms of irrestricted appropriation is as widely known as the criticism that has been addressed to it. The notions of abundance and slavery will be discussed here to claim that it is more accurate to talk about universal privatization (unilateral and unequal) than to talk about irrestricted appropriation. "Universal" has here three different meanings, which will be considered in different sections. The first meaning of "universality" within the theory of appropriation is related to its territorial scope. In this regard, the notion of abundance as defined in Chapter V of Locke's Two Treatises of Government identifies the global perspective of the Lockean theory of appropriation. The second and third meanings arise from an analysis of the notion of slavery, and more precisely from both uses of the term. The study of political slavery, considered as illegitimate, will allow us to explore the paradoxical relation between Lockean theory of property (as universal) and particular states. Lastly, the notion of legitimate slavery (the appropriation of human beings) will allow us to establish the universality of the theory of appropriation and its object, not just concerning earth and fruits but human life too.