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Free Market Fairness

Free Market Fairness

Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: STU - Student edition
Pages: 384
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  • Book Info
    Free Market Fairness
    Book Description:

    Can libertarians care about social justice? InFree Market Fairness, John Tomasi argues that they can and should. Drawing simultaneously on moral insights from defenders of economic liberty such as F. A. Hayek and advocates of social justice such as John Rawls, Tomasi presents a new theory of liberal justice. This theory, free market fairness, is committed to both limited government and the material betterment of the poor. Unlike traditional libertarians, Tomasi argues that property rights are best defended not in terms of self-ownership or economic efficiency but as requirements of democratic legitimacy. At the same time, he encourages egalitarians concerned about social justice to listen more sympathetically to the claims ordinary citizens make about the importance of private economic liberty in their daily lives. In place of the familiar social democratic interpretations of social justice, Tomasi offers a "market democratic" conception of social justice: free market fairness. Tomasi argues that free market fairness, with its twin commitment to economic liberty and a fair distribution of goods and opportunities, is a morally superior account of liberal justice. Free market fairness is also a distinctively American ideal. It extends the notion, prominent in America's founding period, that protection of property and promotion of real opportunity are indivisible goals. Indeed, according to Tomasi, free market fairness is social justice, American style.

    Provocative and vigorously argued,Free Market Fairnessoffers a bold new way of thinking about politics, economics, and justice--one that will challenge readers on both the left and right.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4239-1
    Subjects: Philosophy, Political Science, Economics

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xxx)

    Some of my best friends are libertarians. But by this I do not mean the usual thing: that these people are my friendseven thoughthey are libertarians. And while I do not quite mean the opposite, that would bring us somewhat closer to the truth. The mere fact that someone is a libertarian is enough to dispose me to befriend them. This is because I find libertarianism a profoundly attractive political view.

    I use the termlibertarianismhere in the popular, colloquial sense, meaning that cluster of political views associated with the “right-wing” of liberal democratic polities. In various...

  5. Chapter 1 Classical Liberalism
    (pp. 1-26)

    Liberalism has a complicated history. If asked to draw a quick sketch, however, most contemporary theorists would find the main lines of liberal thought easy enough to depict. Liberalism passed through two great, evolutionary stages. There was an early “classical” stage that emphasized private property. It claimed that people are respected as equals if the law treats them all the same, regardless of material inequalities that might emerge between them. The classical view was eventually displaced by modern, “high” liberalism. As the masterworks of the High Renaissance represent the culmination of a creative movement begun by early Renaissance artists, so...

  6. Chapter 2 High Liberalism
    (pp. 27-56)

    While Americans were pursuing the classical liberal ideal, a different ideal of equality was emerging on the European continent. Like the Americans, revolutionists in France dreamed of establishing a classless society. However, the Europeans did not dream of a commercial republic where legally equal citizens would be differentiated only by hard work and natural talent. Leading members of the French Revolution saw the rejection of monarchism as opening a more radical possibility: a substantive conception of equality based on an equal sharing of material goods.

    In a speech to the French National Convention in 1793, a leading revolutionary figure named...

  7. Chapter 3 Thinking the Unthinkable
    (pp. 57-86)

    The phrase “thinking the unthinkable” was made notorious by members of the New Labour movement in Britain during the 1990s.¹ Labour’s power base had long been the British working class. Labour’s political strategy was founded on the assumption that its leftist platform—high tax rates on corporations and wealthy individuals, wide social service programs, and even a call for the full public ownership of productive capital—would be attractive to the British working poor. However, as ever-greater numbers of working people found themselves rising into the middle class, Labour’s political base increasingly defected. For the Labour leaders, thinking the unthinkable...

  8. Chapter 4 Market Democracy
    (pp. 87-122)

    Market democracy is a hybrid. It combines insights from classical liberals such as Hayek with insights from high liberals such as Rawls. Like views in the high liberal tradition, market democracy affirms a robust conception of social justice as the ultimate standard of institutional evaluation. Basic rights and liberties in place, a set of institutions is just only if it works over time to improve the condition of the least well-off citizens. Indeed, to be fully just, those institutions must be affirmed because they are designed to offer greater benefits to the poor than any other alternative set of (rights-protecting)...

  9. Chapter 5 Social Justicitis
    (pp. 123-161)

    Opposition to social justice is a fixed premise of the classical liberal and libertarian traditions. This arc of opposition runs from Hume, to Hayek, to Nozick and beyond. In Hume’s classic statement: “Render possessions ever so equal, men’s different degrees of art, care, or industry will immediately break that equality. Or if you check these virtues, you reduce society to the most extreme indigence; and instead of preventing want and beggar in a few, render it unavoidable to the whole community.”¹ Hayek argues that “justice” applies only to the products of deliberate human will. A free society is a spontaneous order...

  10. Chapter 6 Two Concepts of Fairness
    (pp. 162-196)

    Political philosophy is witnessing the emergence of a new form of classical liberalism. For decades left liberal scholars wishing to introduce their students to market-friendly versions of liberal justice could responsibly discharge that duty by teaching a unit on Nozick (or some other prominent post-Rawlsian libertarian). Things have changed. These days, cutting-edge work by market enthusiasts is more likely to come from classical liberals than from libertarians. Indeed, among philosophers, the days of orthodox libertarianism seem numbered. One reason is that philosophical defenses of private economic liberty increasingly make room for moral ideals long associated exclusively with the left, such...

  11. Chapter 7 Feasibility, Normativity, and Institutional Guarantees
    (pp. 197-225)

    The publication ofA Theory of Justicebegan a multidecade run of enthusiasm among political philosophers for left liberal and social democratic institutional ideals. Rawls and his many talented followers confidently assured us that a moral commitment to social justice required a political commitment to extending and thickening the branches of government. Philosophers converged in defense of left liberal institutional forms—the welfare state or more social-democratic ideals such as property-owning democracy or liberal democratic socialism. Hegel would have smiled. For as the academic consensus tightened in favor of left liberalism, the political consensus about such institutions began to waver...

  12. Chapter 8 Free Market Fairness
    (pp. 226-266)

    The familiar “social democratic” interpretation of justice as fairness makes room for only a thin and attenuated conception of private economic liberty. By contrast, I defend a “market democratic” interpretation of justice as fairness that I call free market fairness. Free market fairness affirms a thick conception of economic liberty, seeing economic freedom as on a par with the other basic liberal freedoms. In this chapter I complete our sketch of free market fairness by focusing on institutions. What institutional framework might support a society that is both distributively fair and economically free?

    To understand justice as fairness, on any...

  13. Conclusion
    (pp. 267-272)

    For too long the conceptual landscape of liberal thought has lain in a deep freeze. On one side, we have the camp of the traditional libertarians and classical liberals. They affirm the importance of private economic liberty on grounds that require them to reject any notion of distributive justice. If rights are founded on a principle of self-ownership, for example, discussions about justice in the distribution of shares get cut off before they begin. On the other side, we have the camp of the traditional high liberals. They affirm accounts of social justice that force them to restrict the ability...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 273-314)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 315-332)
  16. Index
    (pp. 333-348)