"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Article/Chapter Bleg

Off the top of your head, if you were going to assign for reading in a college class one article or book chapter that most effectively critiques the standard sort of left-liberal redistributionist theory of economic justice (say, that of John Rawls or Ronald Dworkin), what would it be? If it's good, my students will have you to thank for it. If it isn't, it's all my fault...

6 comments:

James Elliott said...

I remember there being a well-written if not terribly convincing (to me, so take that with a grain of salt) chapter in Irving Kristol's "Neoconservatism."

Francis W. Porretto said...

It depends on the orientation you want. For an economic orientation, try Franco Modigliani's chapter in Critics Of Keynesian Economics, edited by Henry Hazlitt. He tees off on Sir William Beveridge's "Full Employment In A Free Society" so memorably that I've forgotten every other essay in the book.

For a philosophical orientation, try Robert Nozick's chapter on John Rawls in his landmark Anarchy, State, and Utopia. It's a polite but thorough evisceration, with which all too few, even among lovers of philosophy, are familiar.

Tom Van Dyke said...

FWP, polite but thorough eviscerations are our higest aspirations hereabouts at TRC. You and the guests here attending, are invited to bring the pain thereby.

We're friends and fellow Americans, not those who shoot rockets at each other.

I must add that I think our Mr. Simpson, in search of balance as a fair-minded pedagogue [at a premium these days in the modernist academy], was looking for something more sympathetic, not a refutation, of the concept that I owe The Other a portion of my daily wages.

(The best I meself can offer, which is insufficient to Mr. Simpson's purpose, is predictably that Thomas Aquinas guy on the concept of a fair wage, that a man should be able to feed his family on an honest day's work.

I myself am good with that.

Now, extending the legal minimum wage to take in teenagers who live at home is a question of prudence, not justice or morality. Still, we arrive not at the moral question of whether the "rich" have too much, but whether the poor have enough. The former concerns me not a whit, but the latter is indeed a pressing moral question.)

Hunter Baker said...

Nozick does, in fact, take Rawl's economic theory of justice completely apart in the above-mentioned book.

Francis W. Porretto said...

Just this morning, a friend and fellow writer resuscitated an old argument against welfarism: that to tax a people for the benefit of a class is a form of enslavement. I've not seen that approach in many years, and I don't think I've ever seen it fully developed.

Bastiat called it plunder (spoliation). But is there a good enough connection to the heart of the institution of slavery -- forced labor for another's benefit, under threat of punishment -- to justify that categorization?

Alan Reynolds said...

I have a textbook on this topic coming out in October or November -- "Income and Wealth" from Greenwood Press. Look up Alan Reynolds at amazon.com and you can find it.