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Readings 3 Libertarianism.docx

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Western University
Philosophy 2801F/G

READINGS WEEK THREE LECTURE 1 LIBERAL EGALITARIANISM DIVERSITY OF RIGHT WING POLITICAL THEORY Libertarians defend market freedoms and oppose the use of redistributive taxation schemes to implement a liberal theory of equality One common argument for unrestricted capitalism is its productivity Utilitarian would support government restrictions on property rights Because of the declining marginal utility those at the bottom gain more from redistribution than those at the top lose, even when redistribution lessens productivity The more governments are able to control economic life the more able and willing they will be to control all aspects of our lives Countries with essentially unrestricted capitalism have sometimes had poor human rights records We do not favour the free market because people have rights to property People have a right to dispose freely of their goods and services and they have this right whether or not it is the best way to ensure productivity ENTITLEMENT THEORY Entitlement theory if we assume that everyone is entitled to the goods they currently posses then a just distribution is simply whatever distribution results from peoples free exchanges The only legitimate taxation is to raise revenues for maintaining the background institutions needed to protect the system of free exchange Three main principles 1. A principle of transfer whatever is justly acquired can be freely transferred 2. A principle of just initial acquisition an account of how people come initially to own the things which can be transferred in accordance with 1 3. A principle of rectification of injustice how to deal with holdings if they were unjustly acquired or transferred is that a minimal state is limited to the narrow functions of protection against force, theft, fraud, enforcement of contracts and so on is justified; any more extensive state will violate persons rights not to be forced to do certain things a just distribution must be ambition sensitive must also be endowment insensitive liberal egalitarians favour taxing free exchanges in order to compensate the naturally and socially disadvantaged Nozick says this is unjust because people are entitled to their holdings Self-ownership argument as an appeal to the idea of treating people as equals INTUITIVE ARGUMENT Principle of transfer says that if we have legitimately acquired something, we have absolute property rights over it Nozick argues his principle of transfer is more in line with our intuitions that redistributive principles like Rawls difference principle It seems unfair for people to suffer undeserved inequalities in their access to the benefits of social cooperation Some of our most powerful intuitions favour compensating undeserved inequalities The particular rights over things fill the space of rights, leaving no room for general rights to be in a certain material condition SELF OWNERSHIP ARGUMENT Treating people as ends in themselves Individuals have rights and there are things which no individual or group can do to them (without violating these rights) Kantian principle requires a strong theory of rights for rights affirm our separate existences and so take seriously the existence of distinct individuals who are not resources for others Important part of Rawls argument that utilitarianism fails to treat people as ends in themselves since it allows some people to be sacrificed endlessly for the greater benefit of others The basic idea of self ownership can be understood by comparison with slavery Owning my talents means that I own what is produced by my talents. Hence the demand for redistributive taxation from the talented to the disadvantaged violates self- ownership People who are born with a natural disadvantage have a legitimate claim on those with advantages and the naturally advantaged have a moral obligation to the disadvantaged This liberal egalitarian view fails to treat people as equals as ends in themselves Since I have rights to self-ownership that naturally disadvantaged have no legitimate claim over me or my talents 1. Rawlsian redistribution or other coercive government interventions in the market exchanges is incompatible with recognizing people as self owners. Only restricted capitalism recognizes self-ownership 2. Recognizing people as self owners is crucial to treating people as equals SELF OWNERSHIP AND PROPERTY OWNERSHIP Market exchanges involve more than the exercise of self owner powers. They also involve legal rights over things, over external goods and these things are not just created out of nothing by our self-owned powers If the validity of my property rights depends on the validity of previous property rights then determining the validity of my title over external goods requires going back down the chain of transfers to he beginning Everything that is now owned has some element of nature in it INTIAL ACQUISITION Either the use of force made the initial acquisition illegitimate, in which case current title is illegitimate and there is no moral reason why government should not confiscate the wealth and redistribute it. Or the initial use of force did not necessarily render the acquisition illegitimate in which case using force to take property away from its current owners and redistribute it also not necessarily illegitimate Those who currently possess scarce resources have no right to deprive others of access to them If previous title was illegitimate so is the new distribution Many defenders of property rights would like to avoid looking too deeply into the historica
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