Honoring Property Rights

Lesson Duration

Author:  National Constitution Center

In the course of this lesson, students will examine how the concepts of private property and honor are inter-connected—how expectation of honorable action protects the private property rights of individuals in a civil society. In Part I, students reflect on the concept of property, progressing from tangible property to intangible property, including the right of property in oneself.  In Part II, students are asked to take a closer look at the concept of honor and make the connection between protection of private property rights and honorable action. The group activity in Part III has students grappling with a hypothetical plagiarism case before the honor court at a fictional university. The activity culminates in Part IV with a discussion, in which students determine why and how an individual acts to honor private property rights. — Fifth Amendment application.


  • demonstrate an understanding of personal property rights as defined by John Locke and James Madison after analyzing the Bill of Rights and James Madison’s Essay on Property;
  • write a one-page response attempting to define “honor”;
  • participate in a group discussion about “honor”;
  • analyze a hypothetical case concerning property rights and honorable action;
  • determine the individual and government roles in protecting property rights in a civil society.




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