Libertarianism vs. marxism: Reflections on G. A. Cohen's self-ownership, freedom and equality [Book Review]

Journal of Ethics 2 (1):1-26 (1998)
Self-Ownership, Freedom and Equality is G.A. Cohens attempt to rescue something of the socialist outlook on society from the challenge of libertarianism, which Cohen identifies with the work of Robert Nozick in his famous book, Anarchy, State, and Utopia. Sympathizing with the leading idea that a person must belong to himself, and thus be unavailable for forced redistribution of his efforts, Cohen is at pains to reconcile the two. This cannot be done – they are flatly contrary. Moreover, equality is a nonsense principle, calling for such things as equal distribution of natural resources. But resources, as goods, are not natural: all require work to utilize. The only thing exchanged on markets is services, and estimates of value received are relevantly made only by those party to the exchanges in question. Imposition from above on voluntary exchange can only be socially counterproductive.
Keywords autonomy  equality  freedom  liberty  Lockean Proviso  negative rights  positive rights  private property  self-ownership  socialism
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DOI 10.1023/A:1009749215043
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