Are we entitled to our natural assets?

(March 1996)

I am not sure how Nozick replies this challenge, but I think we are not entitled to our own natural assets according to his entitlement theory. As we can agree, if people did something injustice to native Americans when they got lands from them, they are not entitled to the lands. They should do some rectification (maybe to return the lands, if possible). This same principle applies to natural assets.

Let's assume our natural assets are reducible to our genes. Where have these genes come from? Apparently, they have been transferred from our parents. Our parents got the genes from their parents. So each gene has a long history of transfer. What make these transfer just? According to the second principle of entitlement, a just transfer should be voluntary. In this case, all decisions concerning the transfer of the gene -- namely, decisions to make a child, decisions not to abort the child, and even decisions to marry where the contract of marriage implies making children-- should be voluntary. An important point here is, only one involuntary decision in the long history of transfer spoils the hole chain and make your possession of the gene unjust (according to the third principle).

Now, in our particular society, one of two sexes has a long history of oppression. I can't believe the members of this sex were fully voluntary in their decision. Each of our genes may have at least one unfortunate ancestor who was not willing to transfer it. If this is true, then our possessions of the genes are not just, and we are not entitled to them. I don't know how we can rectify this injustice (we can not return our genes to ancestors). But at least we lose the reason to object to the redistribution of natural assets. There is another consequence; we are not entitled to anything we get using our natural assets (our talents).

Back to Recent Works
Back to Tetsuji Iseda Homepage

To INFORM Homepage
To WAM Homepage

If you have any comments, questions or anything else, please mail to .

Last modified: July 13, 1996