Property and cost-benefit analysis

jwalker jwalker at
Tue Jul 11 05:56:26 MDT 1995


I don't know if this counts as a "bite", but I do have a question or two
about your post:

On Mon, 10 Jul 1995 LROGERS at wrote:
> I think this is a marx-compatible way of approaching the subject, but
> I've never seen anybody do so, outside of us evolutionary/materialist
> anthropologists.  Some might think that to use a cost/benefit logic
> to think about 'when people might claim private property' [or to
> think about any thing at all] is in itself capitalistic or bourgois,
> or something bad (I've been told so before, but I don't believe it).
> I claim that c/b analysis is justified (theoretically grounded) by
> evolutionary theory, and it is very useful in understanding the
> behavior of living things.

> But the point of this approach is to think about "property" in a
> different way, to analyze it in terms of the material/social
> circumstances that behavior creates and responds to.  And to relate
> behavior to opportunities presented by the local physical environment
> [job-opportunity].
> Any bites on these comments?
> Lisa

What do you mean by a c/b approach to thinking about property?  From the
rest of your post made me think the idea is something like
decision-theory: figure out what could be the perceived benefits to the
individual of claiming objects as their exclusive domain.

Is this right?

Another question is: if this, or something like it, is what you're on
about, what will the results be?  Or to put it better, what will be the
political significance of such an inquiry?

John D. Walker
jwalker at

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