March 25, 2014
Recap libertarian-egalitarian debate **
• Incommensurability - claim that there are different goods or values which can’t be
measured on a single scare (in principle) so you don’t know how to compare
Objections to Robert Nozick’s libertarianism:
1.1 People are supposed to have fundamental rights of liberty, which act as “side constraints”
1.2 These are supposed to be equal rights (your right to liberty is as absolute as mine
1.3 But people do not have equal liberty unless they have equal opportunity.
1.4 Equal opportunity requires some degree of equal resources. (There are different ways to
bring about equal opportunity ...). It may also require limiting inheritance or the right to
-however rich people can purchase goods that poor people cannot
-Should there be redistribution?
RIGHT TO EQUAL LIBERTY > what he bases his argument on
Wesley Newcomb Hohfeld
-most important is a claim right
-ﬁrst order rights - constitutional immunities protect ﬁrst order rights ... We have rights not to
have our ﬁrst order rights changed by government
1.5 So some redistribution for the sake of justice is justiﬁed
2. Capitalist markets are not “natural” and “free”
2.1 Capitalist markets are not natural but require an extensive legal framework, including that
which creates and gives legal “personality” and “rights” to corporations
2.2 If inequalities arise from an artiﬁcial legal framework, it is not a violation of property rights
to limit those inequalities though redistributive taxation.
3. Marriage example
Marriage between consenting adults should not be interfered with because of the nature of love
and marriage: autonomy should be respected - But how much money one has does not require the same respect.
1. Two main categories of claims:
1.1 a socio-metaphysical claim about from where people get their identities, purposes, goals,
values and thus their “conceptions of the good”, and also their judgments about what justice
requires (Sandel, Taylor, MacIntyre)
Another such claim: Walzer: different goods have different “spheres” (princi