Catholic Dictionary




The exclusive right of disposing of thing as one's own. It is a right because ownership is more than merely holding a thing in one's possession. The disposition means doing anything possible with what is owned, e.g., keeping, changing, giving away, selling, using, or destroying; yet though of itself ownership is unlimited, the disposition of a thing may be limited from another source, say from the rights of higher order or from charity to the neighbor. Ownership implies disposing of an object as one's own to distinguish it from mere agency or trusteeship. And the freedom to dispose what is owned is exclusive because others are kept from the use of what is owned, which applies even in corporate ownership. No matter how large the partnership, anyone outside the owners has no claims on the property. Exclusive right to dispose of something is the most distinctive feature of ownership.