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Property and the Pursuit of Happiness (eBook)

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  • 108,395 Words
  • 248 Pages

In this book, Edward Erler brings a lifetime of study of political philosophy, the American founding, and the US constitution to the central role of property in American constitutional thought. Erler argues that the Founders considered the natural right to property as the comprehensive right that included every other right. In this sense they followed political philosopher John Locke, but at the same time made significant improvements on Locke, making it moral and political, something they called the “pursuit of happiness.”



In the past century, this understanding of the right to property—derived from the principles of the Declaration of Independence—has been challenged by the rise of progressivism, which places promoting community welfare above the protection of individual rights as the central role of government. This has led to the administrative state’s unrelenting attacks on the right to private property, which have effectively ended the right to property as it was understood by the founders. Property and the Pursuit of Happiness offers a learned and wide-ranging discussion of the values at the core of America’s founding that will be of interest to all readers seeking to understand the founders’ vision and the profound challenges to it today.

In this book, Edward Erler brings a lifetime of study of political philosophy, the American founding, and the US constitution to the central role of property in American constitutional thought. Erler argues that the Founders considered the natural right to property as the comprehensive right that included every other right. In this sense they followed political philosopher John Locke, but at the same time made significant improvements on Locke, making it moral and political, something they called the “pursuit of happiness.”



In the past century, this understanding of the right to property—derived from the principles of the Declaration of Independence—has been challenged by the rise of progressivism, which places promoting community welfare above the protection of individual rights as the central role of government. This has led to the administrative state’s unrelenting attacks on the right to private property, which have effectively ended the right to property as it was understood by the founders. Property and the Pursuit of Happiness offers a learned and wide-ranging discussion of the values at the core of America’s founding that will be of interest to all readers seeking to understand the founders’ vision and the profound challenges to it today.


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by Edward J. Erler

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