Rescuing Self-Ownership: Tackling the Pollution Problem

Nicola Mulkeen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two powerful arguments have been raised against the notion of self-ownership. One is that a robust right of self-ownership makes too many things impermissible. In particular, it is argued that the concept yields deeply counter-intuitive results when we consider trivial infringements such as very mild pollution or trivial risks such as having planes fly overhead. The other is that if we are to advance a plausible theory of self-ownership, then libertarians must make rights infringements fungible for social good. But avoiding this weighing and compromising is seen by many libertarians as a key attraction of their view. If these arguments are correct, then it seems that any plausible libertarianism, if we can still call it that, will be weak indeed. In this paper, I argue that both of these claims are false and in doing so I seek to rescue self-ownership from these objections.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCritical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy (CRISPP)
Early online date18 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Self-ownership, pollution, libertarianism, rights violations, moral responsibility


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