Graduation Year

2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Philosophy

Major Professor

Steve Turner

Keywords

authorship, copyright, IP, labor, Locke, patents

Abstract

This thesis argues in favor of an instrumental approach to Intellectual Property (IP). I begin by reviewing justifications for IP that have been offered in recent literature, including Lockean labor theory, Hegelian personality theory, Kantian property theory and utilitarianism. Upon a close and careful analysis, I argue that none of these justifications suffice to ground contemporary IP practice. I review some recent works that offer `pluralist' justifications for IP, which draw from multiple theories in order to account for the diverse field of IP-related laws and practices in existence. I argue that these pluralist theories are also insufficient, because there is no principled reason why one theory is adopted over another in any particular case. In conclusion, I show that an instrumentalist attitude can best explain and justify IP laws and practices.

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