Listen Libertarians! A Review of John Tomasi’s “Free Market Fairness”

John Tomasi’s 2012 book, Free Market Fairness, has been well received. On the dust jacket, Tyler Cowen proclaims it “one of the very best philosophical treatments of libertarian thought, ever” and Deirdre McCloskey calls it a “long and friendly conversation between Friedrich Hayek and John Rawls — a conversation which, astonishingly, reaches agreement.”

Inalienable Rights: A Litmus Test for Liberal Theories of Justice

This paper published in the European journal, Law and Philosophy, examines the intellectual history of inalienable rights theory, and critically examines the work of liberal philosophers of justice, John Rawls and Robert Nozick, from that perspective.

The Pons Asinorum of Political-Economic Theory

In many debates of a political or economic nature, I find myself again and again arguing with people on both the left and right who take the consent-vs.-coercion framing of political and economic issues as fundamental. Those on the right tend to take consent as the essentially sufficient condition for an institution to be morally acceptable. Somewhat surprisingly, those on the left accept the same framing of the issue, and just take the other side—arguing that certain institutions are “actually” coercive.

Austrian capital theory and bourgeois paternalism

As pointed out by Lenore Ealy in her recent blog, there is an interesting connection between a couple of articles in the July 10, 2012 issue of The Freeman. One article by Peter Lewin was a critique of Keynesian stimulus/job creation programs from the viewpoint of Austrian capital theory. The creation of capital and enterprises is a roundabout time-consuming process, and cannot be a quick response to a government stimulus program. The other article by Sandy Ikeda makes a similar point with respect to the bourgeois paternalism of government programs to remake troubled communities since “no government can create what can only emerge spontaneously. That includes genuine communities, warts and all, instead of unsustainable projects and ‘Disneyland neighborhoods.’”

New Instant Cities: The Über-Planners of Libertarianism

This posting is in the series with the theme of libertarians (or classical liberals in the European sense) being unable to stick to their own fine principles whenever it is ideologically inconvenient (as if the fine principles were not their primary motivation!). An earlier blog posting as well as published papers made the point about the whole anti-social-engineering theme of so much libertarian thought (e.g., Hayek and Austrian economics). That theme was much applied to criticize the social planning of socialism in the transition from a capitalist or pre-capitalist society to some form of socialism. But when real-existing socialism collapsed in the late 1980s and early 1990s, liberal neoclassical economists (e.g., the Harvard wunderkinder such as Sachs, Summers, and Shleifer) pushed the strategy of “shock therapy” which involved massive social engineering in the transition from socialism to some form of a private property market economy. Instead of sticking by their fine anti-social-engineering principles, the libertarians, Hayekians, and Austrians suddenly fell silent since it would be ideologically inconvenient to appear as opposing the (shock therapy) transition to capitalism.

Listen Libertarians! Concluding Part V

In this fifth and concluding part of the review of John Tomasi’s book Free Market Fairness, we look at the invisible hand mechanism of the property system (in contrast to the usual price system) which seems to be invisible to liberal scholars and social scientists since it does not give a satisfactory “account” of the current economic system based on the renting of human beings.

Listen Libertarians! Part IV

In this Part IV, we consider the rather fake “inalienable rights” theory of classical liberal/libertarian thought that is consistent with a civilized voluntary slavery contract, a nondemocratic pact of subjection, and a coverture marriage contract, all of which are outlawed in the advanced democracies.

Listen Libertarians! Part III

In this Part III, we consider the conceptual misunderstanding of what Tomasi calls “productive property” which allows the basic capitalism-versus-socialism misframing of the debate about the so-called “capitalist” system.

Listen Libertarians! Part II

In Part I of this series, we saw how Tomasi used the standard consent-versus-coercion misframing of the basic issues in his new book: Free Market Fairness. In this Part II, we consider the misframing involved in the treatment of property rights.

Listen Libertarians! Part I

This is Part I of a five part review of John Tomasi’s Hayek-Rawls remix in his new book: Free Market Fairness.