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 ...

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Free Market Fairness

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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 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

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400842391
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 2/26/2012
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Course Book
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 952,648
  • File size: 586 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).
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Introduction xi

Chapter 1: Classical Liberalism 1
Property and Equality 1
Market Society 6
America 11
Hayek 16
Classical Liberalism 22

Chapter 2: High Liberalism 27
Property or Equality 27
The Decline of Economic Liberty 32
Rawls 37
The Libertarian Moment 46
Liberalismus Sapiens Sapiens 51

Chapter 3: Thinking the Unthinkable 57
The Great Fact: Economic Growth 57
Populism, Probability, and Political Philosophy 60
Economic Liberty and Democratic Legitimacy 68
Endings, and Beginnings, Too 84

Chapter 4: Market Democracy 87
The Conceptual Space 87
Breaking Ice 99
Market Democracy as a Research Program 103
Institutions 106
The Challenges to Market Democracy 118

Chapter 5: Social Justicitis 123
The Distributional Adequacy Condition 123
Hit Parade: Property and the Poor 127
Hayek’s Critique 142
Benadryl for Free-Marketeers
151

Chapter 6: Two Concepts of Fairness 162
Warming up to Market Democracy 162
Applying the Theory 172
The Argument Ipse Dixit 177
Justice as Fairness: Status or Agency? 180

Chapter 7: Feasibility, Normativity, and Institutional Guarantees 197
The Twilight of Left Liberalism? 197
Realistic Utopianism 203
Aims and Guarantees 215

Chapter 8: Free Market Fairness 226
The Difference Principle 226
Fair Equality of Opportunity 237
Political Liberty 247
Generational, Environmental, and International Justice 254
Free Market Fairness as a Moral Ideal 264
Conclusion 267

Notes 273
Bibliography 315
Index 333

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