This question was asked to me by a non-Objectivist:
Why is property a right while the freedom to use things that you encounter is not? What is meant is, doesn't it kind of sucks that people can't run though a field and lay in the grass, because that field may be owned? Property rights, at its core, is a huge denial of freedoms. Granted, there are a lot of benefits of the idea of property, which could outweigh this denial of freedom.
But shouldn't we remember all the downsides of denying this freedom, and continually verify to ourselves that this is a good thing and that there is no way to improve it?
If we forget this and simply say, "property is a right" then aren't we deceiving ourselves into thinking we've created some perfect system, and preventing ourselves from making good decisions in the future?
asked May 18 '11 at 18:50
JK Gregg ♦
The best place to start would be to read Ayn Rand's essay Man's Rights. In essence, she says that individual rights form the ground rules for making it in man's best interest to live with other men. Without such ground rules, a man wouldn't be able to benefit from living with other people as he would constantly be under threat of violence to himself, and the material possessions he needs for survival.
As your friend defines it, "freedom" is not a value, and in fact would be an outright menace. It would not be to my best interest for others to be permitted to walk off with my property, or to murder me on the street. This is exactly the false notion of "freedom" which the principle of individual rights rejects. For a definition of freedom which is compatible with individual rights, you can read more in the entry on freedom in the Ayn Rand Lexicon.