Social Philosophy and Policy

Research Article

The Self-Ownership Proviso: A New and Improved Lockean Proviso*

Eric Macka1

a1 Philosophy, Tulane University

In this essay I propose to explicate and defend a new and improved version of a Lockean proviso—the self-ownership proviso (SOP). I shall presume here that individuals possess robust rights of self-ownership. I shall take it that each individual has strong moral claims over the elements which constitute her person, e.g., her body parts, her talents, and her energies. However, in the course of the essay, I shall be challenging what I take to be the standard conception of self-ownership and proposing an enrichment of that conception. The SOP is presented and in part justified as an implication of the right of self-ownership as it is more richly conceived—hence its designation as the self-ownership proviso. As an implication of the right of self-ownership which is also compatible, in theory and practice, with extensive and robust private property rights, the SOP is offered as an integral element of classical-liberal political theory.


* Composition of this essay was supported by a summer research grant from the Murphy Institute of Tulane University. Mary Sirridge, Ellen Paul, and the other contributors to this volume provided helpful comments.