Persons, Property, and the Corporation: A Proposal for a New Paradigm
Fundamental to our legal system is the distinction between “persons” and “property.” The distinction, roughly put, is one between that which “acts” and that which is “acted upon.” The essentially active nature of the person is evident from the law’s conception of the person as the subject of rights and duties. Rights and duties, after all, imply an active subject, one who may exercise privileges and fulfill obligations. Similarly, the notion of property2 as an entity “acted upon” or essentially passive is also readily apparent. Central to the law’s definition of property is its susceptibility to ownership. The traditional notion of ownership entails control. As a controlled entity, property is acted upon by those who exercise control, i.e., its owners.