Self-Ownership and the Limits of Libertarianism

Social Theory and Practice 31 (4):465-482 (2005)
In the longstanding debate between liberals and libertarians over the morality of redistributive labor taxation, liberals such as John Rawls and Ronald Dworkin have consistently taken the position that such taxation is perfectly compatible with individual liberty, whereas libertarians such as Robert Nozick and Murray Rothbard have adopted the (very) contrary position that such taxation is tantamount to slavery. In this paper, I argue that the debate over redistributive labor taxation can be usefully reconstituted as a debate over the incidents (or components) of self-ownership, with liberals arguing for a narrow definition of the concept and libertarians arguing for a broad one. By using what Alan Ryan has called the “language of proprietorship,” I pinpoint precisely the source of the disagreement between liberals and libertarians and assess the relative strengths of their arguments. I also show that the respective definitions of self-ownership used by liberals and libertarians are deeply problematic—though for strikingly different reasons.
Keywords self-ownership  taxation  libertarianism  liberal egalitarianism
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.5840/soctheorpract200531423
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive Robert S. Taylor, Self-Ownership and the Limits of Libertarianism
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

528 ( #672 of 1,725,631 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

150 ( #2,053 of 1,725,631 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.