Definition of Ownership1
It is the social and conventional conferring of the, sole right upon a person or group or society reflecting a , potential2 deserving to use a particular object while excluding others from the same entitlement. To make the social aspect of this assignment more clear we give an example with regard to the definition of social entitlement. When we say "my spectacles", what relationship exists between spectacles and my own person? Is it a physiological or social relationship? When we say "my hand", it refers to a physiological relationship; because my hands are an integral part of my body. However terms like "my spectacles", "my watch" and "my pen" come under the coverage of social allotment.
Social allotment is a more scientific than physiological relationship. Ownership has validity with respect to the owner and the object only; entailing the right to its possession. When we say "it is my pen", the term "my" is expressed in connection with the object only. Ownership is a relationship between the owner and the object with the consequent right to its usage, and it constitutes a social relationship and not a physiological one. While to the former, presence of mind is a prerequisite, the latter form exists irrespective of presence or otherwise of the mind.
What is rightfulness? The term has different implications corresponding to diverse societies. Here, we do not say that all types of ownership are legitimate but we proceed to say under conditions of capitalism, for instance, certain criteria however illegitimate, according to us act to determine the capitalist as the rightful owner of the returns of his investment and therefore warrant legislation of the necessary norms to safeguard the same. You may say this is not legitimate. However, under the capitalist institution, the capital stands to entirely belong to the capitalist and therefore the right to exploit the same is legally allowed to him. One may object that not all types of ownership are correct. For example, a Muslim can never own alcoholic: drinks. This rule is only peculiar to an Islamic society with its unique structure; but in nonMuslim countries you cannot say nobody is supposed to own hard liquors. Therefore our discussion revolves around definition of ownership rather than its propriety. In short, acceptance, tolerance and propriety of ownership are dependent upon the pervading culture of any particular society.
Therefore, to take the above consideration into view another definition which could be given to "ownership" is, that it denotes a social and/or conventional relationship of an individual or group with an object on the basis of the prevailing norms of the society and reflects the legitimate possession of the object by the owner while debarring others from such entitlement (this legitimacy is a relative and variant term differing under diverse social systems).
- 1. A survey of various definitions of the term "ownership'" available to our external and internal sources, has proven our own definition to be more appropriate, which shall be expounded upon later.
- 2. '"Potential"- Sometimes due to certain factors, the right to possession is circumscribed, e.g., to tread on and destroy an orange. If the owner of an orange tramples upon his orange, his act of destroying the orange (a consumer item) is tantamount to commission of a sin. If the same person treads upon another person's orange; then his commission of sin becomes dichotomous, because firstly, he has transgressed and usurped another's property and secondly, he has destroyed a commodity which could otherwise have been used by mankind. Therefore similar acts are prohibited by Islam and the matter has received a lot of attention and emphasis.