Principles of the Civil Code

Jeremy Bentham

Part 1, Chapter 13, Footnote #01
Limitations on property rights

A general right of property in any thing, is possessed, when it may be use every way, with the exception of certain uses which are forbidden by special reasons. These reasons may be referred to three heads:

  1. Private detriment---when a certain use of the thing would be injurious to a certain other individual, either in his fortune or otherwise. Sic utere tuo ut alium non loedas. Sic utere tuo ut alienum non loedas.
  2. Public detriment---such as may result to ithe community in general. Sic utere tuo ul rem publicam non loedas.
  3. Detriment to the individual himself. Sic utere tuo ut semet ipsum non loedas.

This sword is mine in full property, but plenary as this property is as to a thousand uses, I may not use it in wounding my neighbour, nor cutting his clothes; I may not wave it as a signal of insurrection against the government. If I am a minor or a maniac, it may be taken from me for fear that I should injure myself.

An absolute and unlimited right over any object of property would be the right to commit nearly every crime. If I had such a right over the stick I am about to cut, I might employ it as a mace to knock down the passengers, or I might convert it into a sceptre as an emblem of royalty, or into an idol to offend the national religion.

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Pcc, Part 1, Chapter 13 Sacrifices of Security to Security.