Econ Journal Watch has an excellent symposium on property rights, including leading scholars such as Tom Merrill, Henry Smith, Robert Ellickson, Richard Epstein, and my colleagues Eric Claeys and Adam Mossoff. Here is the summary:
Lawyers and social scientists often describe property as a “bundle of rights.” What are the connotations of “bundle”? What features of property does the “bundle” talk obscure or even deny? What are its political consequences?
In the past 15 years, the “bundle of rights” view has been provocatively challenged, notably by James E. Penner, Thomas W. Merrill, and Henry E. Smith. This symposium brings the challenge to the fore, as these leading critics elaborate the core points of contention. They are joined by three younger critics of the “bundle” view, each with a fresh perspective.
Two eminent legal scholars, Richard A. Epstein and Stephen R. Munzer, take up the challenge. Each mounts his own defense of “bundle of rights” theory. Another renowned property scholar, Robert C. Ellickson, weighs in and stakes out a middle ground.
I am generally a fan of the “bundle of sticks” view, and the symposium essays by Epstein and and Munzer articulate some of the reasons why. However, the opposite perspective also makes some good points, and is well-represented in the symposium by Merrill, Smith, and others.
I highly recommend this exchange to property scholars and anyone else interested in the subject.