Bart Wilson on “The Property Species”

November 19, 2020 at 4:30 PM CST

What is property and why does our species have it? Join us to hear Bart Wilson explore the topics in his new book “The Property Species” on how humans acquire, perceive, and know the custom of property, and why this might be relevant to understanding how property works in the twenty-first century.

In the book, Wilson takes a cross-disciplinary approach that can be controversial: Property is a universal and uniquely human custom. He states that human beings have property in things and at its core, property rests on custom, not rights. Wilson’s approach to thinking of Property offers an alternative view of our relationship with property challenging the conventional approach that property lies in food, mates, territory, or land but rather in the human act of creating, with symbolic thought. 

Bart J. Wilson is the Donald P. Kennedy Endowed Chair in Economics and Law at Chapman University. He is a founding member of the Economic Science Institute and founding member and Director of the Smith Institute for Political Economy and Philosophy. His research uses experimental economics to explore the foundations of exchange and specialization and the origins of property. Another of his research programs compares decision making in humans, apes, and monkeys. Bart has published papers in the American Economic Review, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, and Nature Human Behavior. His research has been supported with grants from the National Science Foundation and the Federal Trade Commission.

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Bart Wilson
Book Cover