Free Market Fairness

Free Market Fairness

by John Tomasi
     
 

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Can libertarians care about social justice? In Free Market Fairness, John Tomasi argues that they can and should. Drawing simultaneously on moral insights from defenders of economic liberty such as F. A. Hayek and advocates of social justice such as John Rawls, Tomasi presents a new theory of liberal justice. This theory, free market fairness, is committed

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Overview

Can libertarians care about social justice? In Free Market Fairness, John Tomasi argues that they can and should. Drawing simultaneously on moral insights from defenders of economic liberty such as F. A. Hayek and advocates of social justice such as John Rawls, Tomasi presents a new theory of liberal justice. This theory, free market fairness, is committed to both limited government and the material betterment of the poor. Unlike traditional libertarians, Tomasi argues that property rights are best defended not in terms of self-ownership or economic efficiency but as requirements of democratic legitimacy. At the same time, he encourages egalitarians concerned about social justice to listen more sympathetically to the claims ordinary citizens make about the importance of private economic liberty in their daily lives. In place of the familiar social democratic interpretations of social justice, Tomasi offers a "market democratic" conception of social justice: free market fairness. Tomasi argues that free market fairness, with its twin commitment to economic liberty and a fair distribution of goods and opportunities, is a morally superior account of liberal justice. Free market fairness is also a distinctively American ideal. It extends the notion, prominent in America's founding period, that protection of property and promotion of real opportunity are indivisible goals. Indeed, according to Tomasi, free market fairness is social justice, American style.

Provocative and vigorously argued, Free Market Fairness offers a bold new way of thinking about politics, economics, and justice--one that will challenge readers on both the left and right.

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Editorial Reviews

Wall Street Journal
[Free Market Fairness's] aim is to question opposed modes of thought and find a way between them. Saying that his book was written for 'ideologically uncommitted readers,' Mr. Tomasi invites them and others to join him in exploring the ideas he has outlined. It is an invitation well worth accepting, especially in an election year.
— Adam Wolfson
Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
Tomasi is a useful corrective to both Rawls and Hayek.
Spiked Review of Books
In many respects, [Tomasi] is a classical liberal, but he also retains a strong commitment to the worst off in society. He is a supporter of both free-market capitalism and of safety nets. His goal is to combine economic liberty and social justice. In attempting to transcend the standard positions, he should be commended.
— Daniel Ben-Ami
Weekly Standard
Brilliant. . . . The heart of Tomasi's book entails serious engagement with John Rawls and his liberal theory of justice as fairness.
— Ryan T. Anderson
Choice
Tomasi takes a significant step beyond classical and some types of social democratic liberalism in an attempt to find common ground. . . . Tomasi's 'market democracy' contributes important insight to the continuing political-economic debate.
Ethics
An extremely interesting and important project.
Wall Street Journal - Adam Wolfson
[Free Market Fairness's] aim is to question opposed modes of thought and find a way between them. Saying that his book was written for 'ideologically uncommitted readers,' Mr. Tomasi invites them and others to join him in exploring the ideas he has outlined. It is an invitation well worth accepting, especially in an election year.
Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews - Andrew Koppelman

[I]mportant . . .
Spiked Review of Books - Daniel Ben-Ami
In many respects, [Tomasi] is a classical liberal, but he also retains a strong commitment to the worst off in society. He is a supporter of both free-market capitalism and of safety nets. His goal is to combine economic liberty and social justice. In attempting to transcend the standard positions, he should be commended.
Weekly Standard - Ryan T. Anderson
Brilliant. . . . The heart of Tomasi's book entails serious engagement with John Rawls and his liberal theory of justice as fairness.
Policy Review - Robert Herritt
One could hardly imagine John Tomasi's Free Market Fairness coming along at a more opportune time. Stump-speech rhetoric seems to have turned its attention (at least nominally) towards the concept of fairness. . . . The proper role of government is up for debate again. . . . Tomasi offers a clear-headed exploration of these and other issues during a moment of noticeable obtuseness and obfuscation in American politics [as] an accident of timing, incidental to his larger project, which is both ambitious and deeply needed.
Regulation - John Hasnas
Free Market Fairness is both an excellent book and an important one. What makes a work of philosophy valuable is not that it arrives at all the right conclusions, but that it asks the right questions, makes us think, and causes us to re-examine our assumptions. Free Market Fairness does all of those things. For this reason, it is appropriate to describe the book as seminal.
Journal of Markets and Morality - Thomas A. Hemphill
John Tomasi has written a spirited, accessible book that successfully argues the classical liberal tradition . . . of private economic liberty as a necessary and equal partner with social and political liberties in a free and just democratic society. This integrated, constructive approach . . . also recognizes the importance of social justice, a high liberal concept that he redefines by employing the principles of classical liberal thought. . . . Tomasi has provided the intellectual and justificatory framework for classical liberal adherents to robustly explore opportunities in a market-democracy research program.
Review of Politics - Mark A. Graber
Free Market Fairness is a fine book that merits promotion, a merit raise, a cohort of graduate students, a fine reputation, and all the other benefits of academic life. The book is well written and well researched. The arguments are clearly stated and well defended. Political thinkers of all stripes will benefit from Tomasi's discussion of classical liberalism and libertarianism.
From the Publisher

"[Free Market Fairness's] aim is to question opposed modes of thought and find a way between them. Saying that his book was written for 'ideologically uncommitted readers,' Mr. Tomasi invites them and others to join him in exploring the ideas he has outlined. It is an invitation well worth accepting, especially in an election year."--Adam Wolfson, Wall Street Journal

"An extremely interesting and important project."--Ethics

"[I]mportant"--Andrew KoppelmanNotre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"In many respects, [Tomasi] is a classical liberal, but he also retains a strong commitment to the worst off in society. He is a supporter of both free-market capitalism and of safety nets. His goal is to combine economic liberty and social justice. In attempting to transcend the standard positions, he should be commended."--Daniel Ben-Ami, Spiked Review of Books

"Tomasi is a useful corrective to both Rawls and Hayek."--Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"Brilliant. . . . The heart of Tomasi's book entails serious engagement with John Rawls and his liberal theory of justice as fairness."--Ryan T. Anderson, Weekly Standard

"Tomasi takes a significant step beyond classical and some types of social democratic liberalism in an attempt to find common ground. . . . Tomasi's 'market democracy' contributes important insight to the continuing political-economic debate."--Choice

"One could hardly imagine John Tomasi's Free Market Fairness coming along at a more opportune time. Stump-speech rhetoric seems to have turned its attention (at least nominally) towards the concept of fairness. . . . The proper role of government is up for debate again. . . . Tomasi offers a clear-headed exploration of these and other issues during a moment of noticeable obtuseness and obfuscation in American politics [as] an accident of timing, incidental to his larger project, which is both ambitious and deeply needed."--Robert Herritt, Policy Review

"Free Market Fairness is both an excellent book and an important one. What makes a work of philosophy valuable is not that it arrives at all the right conclusions, but that it asks the right questions, makes us think, and causes us to re-examine our assumptions. Free Market Fairness does all of those things. For this reason, it is appropriate to describe the book as seminal."--John Hasnas, Regulation

"John Tomasi has written a spirited, accessible book that successfully argues the classical liberal tradition . . . of private economic liberty as a necessary and equal partner with social and political liberties in a free and just democratic society. This integrated, constructive approach . . . also recognizes the importance of social justice, a high liberal concept that he redefines by employing the principles of classical liberal thought. . . . Tomasi has provided the intellectual and justificatory framework for classical liberal adherents to robustly explore opportunities in a market-democracy research program."--Thomas A. Hemphill, Journal of Markets and Morality

"Free Market Fairness is a fine book that merits promotion, a merit raise, a cohort of graduate students, a fine reputation, and all the other benefits of academic life. The book is well written and well researched. The arguments are clearly stated and well defended. Political thinkers of all stripes will benefit from Tomasi's discussion of classical liberalism and libertarianism."--Mark A. Graber, Review of Politics

"A landmark publication in political philosophy."--Res Publica

"John Tomasi is to be applauded for endeavoring to restore among contemporary philosophy professors an appreciation of the political and moral virtues of classical economic liberalism, highlighting . . . its benefits for all citizens, especially the 'less advantaged,' while distinguishing it from the dogmatic, apolitical libertarianism that tends in practice to weaken support for economic (and hence political) freedom."--David Lewis Schaefer, Society

"Tomasi has done us all a service by starting, if not by ending, this important conversation."--John Thrasher, Public Choice

"Tomasi presents a powerful vision of 'social justice, American style' . . . [and] provides a refreshing framework for thinking about the ability of free markets and limited government to preserve the conditions in which justice can be realized, and it is particularly noteworthy for seeking to engage with egalitarian liberals on their own terms. . . . Tomasi's primary goal is to challenge the existing paradigms for thinking about the relationship between markets and justice. At this task, he emphatically succeeds."--Keith Hankins, Journal of Moral Philosophy

"[This book] will be greatly helpful to students of political philosophy and political economy, especially for those whose interests lie in economic inequality and economic Justin."--Sojin Shin, Political Studies Review

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781400842391
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
02/26/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
1,184,577
File size:
600 KB

Meet the Author

John Tomasi is professor of political science at Brown University, where he is also the founder and director of Brown’s Political Theory Project. Tomasi holds degrees in political philosophy from the University of Oxford and the University of Arizona. He has held visiting fellowships and positions at Princeton, Harvard, and Stanford universities, and at the Freedom Center at the University of Arizona. He is the author of Liberalism Beyond Justice (Princeton).

Brief Biography

Also Known As:
The Purple Parrots

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