Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Andrew I. Cohen - Chair

Second Advisor

Melissa Merritt

Third Advisor

Christie Hartley


This thesis presents a two part criticism to Liam Murphy and Thomas Nagel’s book, The Myth of Ownership, in which they attempt to argue that it is logically impossible that one can have any entitlement to their pretax income. The first criticism addresses their claim that based on a politically charged understanding of human nature you cannot have property without government. Through the fields of psychology, biology and anthropology, an overlap is found that presents human nature in such a way that presents a serious hurdle to the Murphy and Nagel position. The second criticism addresses their failure to define the scope of government in their book. In light of cultures that have a strong conception of property, Murphy and Nagel are charged with equivocating on the definition of government in order to make their argument hold. The conclusion reached is that based on current research pertaining to human nature and a brief anthropological study, the existence of government is not needed in order to have property within a community.

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