What "is" Ownership?
Ownership is an abstraction, a concept/idea, which describes a truce-like cooperative behavior. No one owns in some kind of physical sense, or in an entirely inviolable way, but ownership exists as thoughts and actions.
Priority and Subject
Ownership describes an attachment or priority in regards to some 'subject.' The subject of ownership is also abstract, and may describe anything from objects to actions or intangibles.
- Actions: For ownership of actions, having priority for the benefits of those actions is a common source of ownership (i.e. the product of labor). Ownership of actions also manifests itself as liability, as a person is treated as responsible for their actions.
- Intangibles: Intangible ownership examples include copyrights/patents, identity, privacy, contracts/agreements, viruses/hacking, mental/verbal abuse, and certain kinds of pollution (i.e. noise or visual).
Priority describes the primary person, or the ranking in which, the subject is owned. This priority tends to determine the ability to access the subject, as well as the responsibility for that subject.
- Priority Example: An apartment owner has a strongest claim and priority to the physical property itself. Within that, the apartment owner may lease habitation of that property, thereby transferring a temporary strongest claim to habitation to the renter.
- Responsibility Example: If a dog attacks a person, and it was found to be 'owned' by someone who trained it aggressively, that owner may be treated as liable for the dog's actions or negligence.
Those who respect ownership are considered in good standing, while those who do not respect ownership find their own ownership not respected. Often, persons will pursue the restoration of the prior truce, or persons will pursue the most minimal of breaches in order to retain their good status.
- example: Even the starving man who steals bread respects ownership by not stealing luxury items.
- example: Restitution is a common means of restoring one's good standing, essentially attempting to undo any damage done through their breach of truce.
The concept of "why ownership?" cannot be answered without any consideration of what is meant by ownership, or the type of ownership system proposed.
As noted earlier, ownership is abstraction. There is no "correct/incorrect" form of ownership (or theory of property) written in the laws of physics, but rather only better or worse forms of ownership for the pursuit of certain ends (values, pursuits, desires). These ends, or standards of value, can be used to measure specific kinds of ownership.
Strength of Claim
Most ownership concepts revolve around the strength of one's claim to ownership. The strength of one's claim may depend on a variety of factors, including proximity, investment, action, production, first-action, agreements, security, and enforcement.