Are Economic Liberties Basic Rights?

Politics, Philosophy, and Economics 13 (1):23-44 (2014)
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Abstract

In this essay I discuss a powerful challenge to high-liberalism: the challenge presented by neoclassical liberals that the high-liberal assumptions and values imply that the full range of economic liberties are basic rights. If the claim is true, then the high-liberal road from ideals of democracy and democratic citizenship to left-liberal institutions is blocked. Indeed, in that case the high-liberal is committed to an institutional scheme more along the lines of laissez-faire capitalism than property-owning democracy. To present and discuss this challenge, I let John Rawls represent the high-liberal argument that only a narrow range of economic liberties are basic rights and John Tomasi represent the neoclassical liberal argument that the full range of economic liberties are basic rights. I show that Rawls’s argument is inadequate, but also that Tomasi’s argument fails. I thus conclude that high-liberalism is in a precarious situation, but is not yet undone by the neoclassical liberal challenge.

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Jeppe von Platz
University of Richmond

Citations of this work

The Basic Liberties: An Essay on Analytical Specification.Stephen K. McLeod & Attila Tanyi - 2023 - European Journal of Political Theory 22 (3):465-486.
All Liberty is Basic.Jessica Flanigan - 2018 - Res Publica 24 (4):455-474.
Freedom, money and justice as fairness.Blain Neufeld - 2017 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 16 (1):70-92.
Is The Free Market Fair?Anna Stilz - 2014 - Critical Review: A Journal of Politics and Society 26 (3):423-438.

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References found in this work

A Theory of Justice: Revised Edition.John Rawls - 1999 - Harvard University Press.
Anarchy, State, and Utopia.Robert Nozick - 1974 - New York: Basic Books.
Justice as fairness: a restatement.John Rawls (ed.) - 2001 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
The metaphysics of morals.Immanuel Kant - 1797/1996 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Mary J. Gregor.
Anarchy, State, and Utopia.Robert Nozick - 1974 - Philosophy 52 (199):102-105.

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