Published online by Cambridge University Press: 14 July 2022
In the hundred years since Hohfeld published his two “Fundamental Legal Conceptions” articles, the “bundle-of-rights” view of property associated with his work has come to enjoy the status of conventional wisdom in American legal scholarship.1 Seen as a corrective to lay conceptions and a predecessor “Blackstonian” view of property as the “sole and despotic dominion” of an “owner” over a thing,2 the central insight of Hohfeldian analysis is standardly taken to be that property is not a single “thing” but rather a “bundle of rights” with respect to things and persons.3 In recent years, however, this Hohfeldian view has come under increasing attack by critics calling to replace the bundle-of-rights picture with a return to lay or neo-Blackstonian conceptions of property, as the “right to a thing,” “thing-ownership,” or, simply, “the law of things.”4 Yet what precisely is at stake in this dispute has remained somewhat nebulous.
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