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Are The Economic Liberties Basic?

Author(s): Patten, Alan W.

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Abstract: © 2014, Critical Review Foundation. ABSTRACT: According to John Tomasi's Free Market Fairness, there are serious constraints on what a liberal state may do to promote economic justice. Tomasi defends this claim by arguing that important economic liberties ought to be regarded as “basic” and given special priority over other liberal concerns, including those of economic justice. I argue that Tomasi's defense of this claim is unsuccessful. One problem takes the form of a dilemma: depending on how the claim is formulated more precisely, Tomasi's argument seems either to be compatible with standard (e.g., Rawlsian) liberalism or to tell against even the minimal taxation that would be necessary to support the social safety net he supports. Second, granting “basic” status to economic liberties would in many cases defeat the goal, self-authorship, that Tomasi sees himself as sharing with other liberals. Third, contrary to Tomasi's suggestions, no inconsistency arises when liberals (such as Rawls) refuse to recognize the economic liberties as basic. Fourth and finally, the special significance that Tomasi attaches to agency does not provide any additional reason for accepting Tomasi's conclusions.
Publication Date: 24-Sep-2014
Citation: Patten, A. (2014). Are The Economic Liberties Basic?. Critical Review, 26 (362 - 374. doi:10.1080/08913811.2014.947745
DOI: doi:10.1080/08913811.2014.947745
ISSN: 0891-3811
Pages: 1 - 19
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Critical Review
Version: Author's manuscript

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