Theoria: An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science

Volume 9, Issue 2, Septiembre 1994

L. Thorne McCarty
Pages 173-190

Ownership
A Case Study in the Representation of Legal Concepts

This paper is an exercise in computational jurisprudence. It seems clear that the field of AI and Law should draw upon the insights of legal philosophers, whenever possible. But can the computational perspective offer anything in return? We explore this question by focusing on the concept of OWNERSHIP, which has been debated in the jurisprudential literature for centuries. Although the intellectual currents here flow mostly in one direction -from legal philosophy to AI- we show that there are also some insights to be gained from a computational analysis of the OWNERSHIP relation. In particular, the paper suggests a computational explanation for the emergence of abstract property rights, divorced from concrete material objects.