Self-Ownership, Freedom, and Equality

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Overview

In this book one of the world's leading political philosophers examines the libertarian principle of self-ownership, which says that each person belongs to himself and therefore owes no service or product to anyone else. This principle is used to defend capitalist inequality, which is said to reflect each person's freedom to do as he wishes with himself.

The author argues that self-ownership cannot deliver the freedom it promises to secure, thereby undermining the idea that lovers of freedom should embrace capitalism and the inequality that comes with it. He goes on to show that the standard Marxist condemnation of exploitation implies an endorsement of self-ownership, since, in the Marxist conception, the employer steals from the worker what should belong to her, because she produced it. Thereby a deeply inegalitarian notion has penetrated what is in aspiration an egalitarian theory. Purging that notion from socialist thought, he argues, enables construction of a more consistent egalitarianism.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...provides an extended and masterful examination of the relationships between the concepts of self-ownership, freedom, and equality." Nancy Holmstrom, The Philosophical Review

"Cohen's book is crammed with intricate, interesting, and often ingenious arguments." Jan Narveson, The Journal of Ethics

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Product Details

Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgements
Introduction: history, ethics and Marxism 1
1 Robert Nozick and Wilt Chamberlain: how patterns preserve liberty 19
2 Justice, freedom, and market transactions 38
3 Self-ownership, world-ownership, and equality 67
4 Are freedom and equality compatible? 92
5 Self-ownership, communism, and equality: against the Marxist technological fix 116
6 Marxism and contemporary political philosophy, or: why Nozick exercises some Marxists more than he does any egalitarian liberals 144
7 Marx and Locke on land and labour 165
8 Exploitation in Marx: what makes it unjust? 195
9 Self-ownership: delineating the concept 209
10 Self-ownership: assessing the thesis 229
11 The future of a disillusion 245
Bibliography 266
Index of names 272
Subject index 274
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