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The Just and the Wild


The question of the extent to which previously recognized property rights should continue to be protected has undoubtedly bedeviled every legal system that has attempted to address it. On the one hand, the legal idea of property reflects a broad societal commitment to the continued honoring of historically based entitlements on which individuals depend. On the other hand, every complex society is acutely aware of the inadequacy of the simple idea of the legal protection of existing rights as a response to human poverty, environmental degradation, and other critical problems.

This issue of who has what - or who can count on what - is at the heart of the American takings problem. Our feelings and fears about poverty, wealth, preservation, and change fuel legal and political battles over the question of the taking of property by government. Property is seen as a bulwark which protects individual wealth, liberty, and autonomy. Whether government can impair this bulwark - without recognizing that impairment-implicates, on the deepest levels, our fundamental feelings of security.

Because of the complexities and extraordinarily high stakes in this field, it presents particular fascinations and minefields for scholars. It is difficult to give useful advice about takings law without oversimplifying the issues or short changing our own, conflicting emotions. In its efforts in this task, the work of Professor Carol Rose is without peer. It is (at the same time) intellectually profound, meticulously balanced, practically useful, and boldly and provocatively passionate.