Left-Libertarianism and Global Justice

In Burton M. Leiser & Tom Campbell (eds.), Human Rights in Philosophy & Practice. Ashgate Publishing (2001)

Peter Vallentyne
University of Missouri, Columbia
We defend a version of left-libertarianism, and discuss some of its implications for global justice (and economic justice among nations in particular). Like the better known right-libertarianism, left-libertarianism holds that agents own themselves. Unlike right-libertarianism, left-libertarianism holds that natural resources (land, oil, air, etc.) are owned in some egalitarian sense and can be legitimately appropriated by individuals or groups only when the appropriations are compatible with the specified form of egalitarian ownership. We defend the thesis of self-ownership on the grounds that it is required to protect individuals adequately from interference in their lives by others. We then defend a particular conception of egalitarian ownership of natural resources according to which those who appropriate unappropriated natural resources must pay competitive rent (determined by supply and demand) for the rights that they have claimed. We then go on to apply the principles to issues of global justice. We defend the view that countries owe payments to a global fund for the value of unimproved natural resources that they have appropriated, and that this fund is to be divided on some egalitarian basis among the citizens of the world. We..
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