Kant goes fishing: Kant and the right to property in environmental resources

Angela Breitenbach

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    6 Citations (Scopus)


    We can observe a connection between some serious environmental problems caused by the overexploitation of environmental resources and the particular conceptions of property rights that are claimed to hold with regard to these resources. In this paper, I investigate whether Kant’s conception of property rights might constitute a basis for justifying property regimes that would overcome some of these environmental problems. Kant’s argument for the right to property, put forward in his Doctrine of right, is complex. In Section 2, I attempt an interpretation. Section 3 works out the defining characteristics of the conception of property rights that Kant’s argument establishes and investigates their implications for determining property regimes in environmental resources. Kant proposes a minimalist notion of the right to property as a triadic relation between persons with regard to an object, justified only on the condition that it is universalizable in the given circumstances. I argue that this notion offers a promising account for determining property relations with regard to environmental resources. By way of illustration, in Section 4, I focus on an example of Kantian property rights in one type of environmental resource: the marine fisheries.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)488-512
    Number of pages25
    JournalStudies in History and Philosophy of Science
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Sep 2005

    Cite this