The philosophy of the welfare state

Critical Review 4 (4):545-568 (1990)
A critical survey of the major philosophical arguments that have been used to justify the institutions and policies of contemporary welfare states considers the claims of rights theory, egalitarianism, and citizenship and communitarian doctrines. It finds that these arguments are both internally confused and inconsistent with conventional welfare policies. It is argued that the welfare state itself has serious ambiguities: it claims to cater for the needy, as part of its ?public good?; obligations, yet in practice it delivers a range of private goods, e.g., health, housing, education and pensions, often irrespective of need. Yet classical liberal theories of state welfare, which favor simple cash payments, are flawed in theory and potentially costly in practice, while neocon?servative theories, by imposing ?values?; on welfare recipients, undermine liberal pluralism. The author concludes that welfare philosophy should be concerned with two neglected areas: the possibility that welfare be provided outside the familiar market and state categories, and the construction of constitutional rules to prevent the middle?class ?capture?; of existing welfare states.
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DOI 10.1080/08913819008459621
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Alan Gewirth (1978). Reason and Morality. University of Chicago Press.

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