Conceptual Innovation in Fichte's Theory of Property: The Genesis of Leisure as an Object of Distributive Justice



Fichte's definitions of property appear to diverge from modern common linguistic usage, especially his identification of leisure as the object of an absolute right of property, and they may even appear arbitrary. I argue that these definitions are not in fact arbitrary. Rather, any divergence from common linguistic usage can be explained in terms of a conceptual innovation which consists in expanding or modifying a concept by thinking it through, thereby generating new content. In the case of Fichte's theory of property, this content turns out to be leisure as the primary object of a theory of distributive justice. The conceptual innovation found in Fichte's theory of property invites a reconceptualization of the relation between work and freedom.