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POLISCI 1020E: Liberty, Inequality, Property.docx

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Political Science
Political Science 1020E
Charles Jones

MARX ON MONEY AND PROPERTY  money changes everything o it transforms human relationships o takes normal relationships and turns them into commodities o relationships are degraded  money is the ―universal whore‖ o ultimately, everything is for sale— everything has a price  money talk debases our language o use money instead of language to relate to others o used to be ―worthy being‖, now about ―net worth‖ True Foundation of Private Property ―In actual history, it is a notorious fact that conquest, enslavement, robbery, murder, in short, force, play the greatest part‖ – Karl Marx, Capital, Vol 1 PROPERTY, UTILITY, RIGHTS, AND LIBERTY The Problem of Distributive Justice Who should get what? What should be distributed?... Money? Opportunities? Rights? What are Property Rights?  owners of resources have (limited) rights to determine what to do with them  ownership of objects, land, buildings, factories  cluster of rights: possess (exclude others), use, sell, give away, destroy What Justifies a System of Property Rights? Some Answers: 1. Promoting Utility  distribute goods in such a way that net happiness is higher than unhappiness 2. Protecting Natural Rights 3. Securing Freedom  what matters, ultimately, is freedom 4. Ensuring Equality  equality of what, though? Utilitarianism Choose the distribution of goods/properties that maximizes well-being or utility.  impartiality: equal concern o everyone for one and no one for more than one  diminishing marginal utility: equality o the more units you have of something, the less something is worth to you at the margin o works where there are a fixed set of goods (eg. 30 million pairs of pants in Canada— give one to each person)  incentives: inequality o allow some inequality of income— give everyone incentive to work hard, and everyone will be better off as a result No single answer to how goods should be distributed in utilitarianism— depends on what produces the most happiness. Nozick’s Libertarianism Basic rights include the right to private property.  entails free-market capitalism with a minimal state o state should protect us against force, fraud… but otherwise get out of the way  forced redistribution is illegitimate o private property rights are absolute— redistribution should be voluntary Rawls’ Liberal Egalitarianism Unrestricted free markets generate unacceptable inequalities.  commitment to freedom means equal freedoms
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