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libertarianism without inequality

Libertarianism without inequality (6)

by Chris Bertram on January 2, 2004

Readers with long memories will recall that I commented on chapter 5 of Michael Otsuka’s Libertarianism Without Inequality nearly a month ago. Chapter 6 is very much a continuation of the theme of that earlier chapter, and addresses a central liberal-egalitarian objection to the conception of legitimate state authority that Otsuka advanced there. Below the fold are some reactions to Chapter 6: feel free to comment if you have read or are reading the book.

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Libertarianism without inequality (5)

by Chris Bertram on December 6, 2003

Apologies to those of you who followed my first four posts on Michael Otsuka’s Libertarianism Without Inequality (1, 2 , 3 , 4 ). For various reasons—mainly pressure of work—I’ve taken a while to get around to chapter 5 (though I’ve actually read the whole book now). Some comments on that chapter are below the fold. I’ll try to comment on the two remaining chapters over the next week. (Comments are welcome from those who have read or are reading the book).

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Libertarianism without inequality (4)

by Chris Bertram on November 11, 2003

Below the fold are some more (and slightly belated) reflections on Michael Otsuka’s Libertarianism Without Inequality . Today’s offering concerns chapter four. (Earlier posts concerned one , two and three .) As then, comments are welcome from those who are reading or who have read the book.

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Libertarianism without inequality (3)

by Chris Bertram on October 31, 2003

Below the fold are some reactions to chapter 3 of Michael Otsuka’s Libertarianism without Inequality (previous installments 1 and 2 ). Mike is giving a paper—“Skepticsm about saving the greater number”—in my department this afternoon , so I wanted to get some thoughts down independently before they became contaminated by conversation with him. As always, comments are welcome from anyone who is either reading or has read the book.

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Libertarianism without inequality (2)

by Chris Bertram on October 25, 2003

This is the second installment in a series of postings to accompany a reading group around Michael Otsuka’s Libertarianism Without Inequality (first installment here ). I’ll put the meat of the posting below the fold. Comments are again welcome from others who are reading or who have read the book.

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Libertarianism without inequality

by Chris Bertram on October 17, 2003

I’ve just started, as part of a reading group, Michael Otsuka’s Libertarianism Without Inequality . Otsuka is a political philosopher at University College, London, and well published in journals like Philosophy and Public Affairs , so I’m expecting this to be an important contribution to the literature on self-ownership and justice. We’ve covered chapter one so far, in which Otsuka outlines his claim that robust self-ownership is compatible with equality, understood along the lines of Richard Arneson’s equal opportunity for welfare rather than Dworkinian equality of resources. What I say here is therefore highly provisional, probably involves misunderstandings, and probably gets an adequate answer from Otsuka later in the book. But anyone else who has either read the book, or is reading it should feel free to post comments (we’re doing about a chapter a week and I hope to post some remarks on each chapter as we read).

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In a famous letter to James Madison, Thomas Jefferson set out the problem of intergenerational sovereignty :it is as unjust for the dead to impose their laws on the living as it is for one country to impose its laws on another. In both cases, those subject to the laws are being obliged to obey legislation that they had no hand in formulating and have limited opportunity to repeal. As Jefferson points out, later generations may be burdened in all kinds of similar ways by earlier ones. So, for example, they may be held liable for the borrowing of their ancestors. But why should they be any more responsible for the repayment of such debts that the inhabitants of one country are for the repayment of the debts of another?

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Oxford Political Thought Conference

by Chris Bertram on January 7, 2004

I’m off to the Oxford Political Thought Conference (programme here in Word format ) tomorrow. I’ve never been before, but I’m very much looking forward to it. Jonathan Israel, author of the monumental Radical Enlightenment is speaking, as is Michael Otsuka whose Libertarianism Without Inequality I’ve been discussing on Crooked Timber. I’m also hoping to meet up with Chris Brooke of the Virtual Stoa , who has recently blogged about both Jonathan Israel and about Sankar Muthu’s new Enlightenment Against Empire (of which I’ve read a chapter and a half and may comment on soonish).

Till death us do part

by Chris Bertram on January 4, 2004

An issue arises from comments and discussion on Michael Otsuka’s Libertarianism Without Inequality that I’d like to take out of that context and discuss as a free-standing matter. It concerns the freedom people ought to have to make binding agreements, and specifically such agreements as marriage. Currently, marriage as an institution is a creature of law and, whatever the promises the parties make—for richer, for poorer, etc—there exist mechanisms such as divorce to terminate the relationship. But surely this ought to bother libertarians? Why shouldn’t people be free to enter into unions that are permanent and from which there is no possibility of exit? Why shouldn’t people simply define the terms of “marriage” as they like?

Liberals have an answer to this one, which is roughly that given the core interests we take people to have, we ought to describe and circumscribe those rights in ways that further and protect those interests. We know that marriages go wrong but also that people being people are likely to deceive themselves about that possibility in their own case. So we seek to protect people against their own decisions, irrationality and lack of foresight and to provide them with ways to salvage their lives if things go wrong. But it is hard to see how libertarians can be that paternalistic. Suggestions?

Vindictive billionaires

by Henry on May 26, 2016

There’s been a lot of reaction to the news that Peter Thiel secretly funded Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit (which has led to a $140 million award) against Gawker. Thiel is, of course, not only a Silicon Valley billionaire, but a man of strong, if idiosyncratic, libertarian views. Hence, it’s ironic that he illustrates some of the blind spots of libertarianism – in particular, the tendency of many libertarians to discount the problems of wealth inequality.

A few weeks ago, Tyler Cowen wrote this post on Trump: [click to continue…]

The Declaration as Patrimony

by Henry on June 19, 2015

I was born in Ireland, not America. This country’s habit of conducting its national conversation through its founders and founding documents still seems a little strange to me. The closest Irish equivalent to the Declaration of Independence, the Proclamation of the Republic, has a vexed status in Irish historical memory. This was in part because the republican promises made were never quite delivered on, in part because of Ireland’s civil war, where the losers declared themselves the true heirs of the Proclamation and took up arms on its behalf, and in part because the proclaimers have not been dead sufficiently long to acquire the incorruptible odor of sanctity. Instead of a civic religion centered on my country’s founders, we grew up in the gaps of a conversation that never quite took form, tacit and tactical silences that carefully skirted a complicated history, and, rising up from somewhere below, the sweet aroma of bodies that hadn’t been buried quite deeply enough. [click to continue…]