Fairness and Freedom: A History of Two Open Societies: New Zealand and the United States

Fairness and Freedom: A History of Two Open Societies: New Zealand and the United States

by David Hackett Fischer


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Fairness and Freedom compares the history of two open societies—New Zealand and the United States—with much in common. Both have democratic polities, mixed-enterprise economies, individuated societies, pluralist cultures, and a deep concern for human rights and the rule of law. But all of these elements take different forms, because constellations of value are far apart. The dream of living free is America's Polaris; fairness and natural justice are New Zealand's Southern Cross.

Fischer asks why these similar countries went different ways. Both were founded by English-speaking colonists, but at different times and with disparate purposes. They lived in the first and second British Empires, which operated in very different ways. Indians and Maori were important agents of change, but to different ends. On the American frontier and in New Zealand's Bush, material possibilities and moral choices were not the same. Fischer takes the same comparative approach to parallel processes of nation-building and immigration, women's rights and racial wrongs, reform causes and conservative responses, war-fighting and peace-making, and global engagement in our own time—with similar results.

On another level, this book expands Fischer's past work on liberty and freedom. It is the first book to be published on the history of fairness. And it also poses new questions in the old tradition of history and moral philosophy. Is it possible to be both fair and free? In a vast array of evidence, Fischer finds that the strengths of these great values are needed to correct their weaknesses. As many societies seek to become more open—never twice in the same way, an understanding of our differences is the only path to peace.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780199832705
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 02/10/2012
Pages: 656
Sales rank: 1,016,420
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.40(h) x 2.30(d)

About the Author

David Hackett Fischer teaches history at Brandeis University. His books include The Great Wave, Albion's Seed, and Liberty and Freedom. Washington's Crossing was a New York Times bestseller and won the Pulitzer Prize in 2005. Champlain's Dream was an international bestseller, and won McGill's Cundill Award for Excellence in 2008.


Wayland, Massachusetts

Date of Birth:

December 2, 1935

Place of Birth:

Baltimore, Maryland


A.B., Princeton University, 1958; Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University, 1962

Table of Contents

A Voyage of Discovery

INTRODUCTION Fairness and Freedom
Settler Societies
Two British Empires
Indians and Maori
Frontier and Bush

Federalists and Centralists
Immigration: Voluntary and Assisted
Women's Rights: Two Feminist Traditions
Racial Wrongs: Struggles for Freedom and Justice
Lib-Labs and Progressives

External Relations, Foreign Affairs
Long Slump and Great Crash
Two Military Traditions
World Crisis and Restructuring

Learning to be Fair and Free

Fairness as a Philosophical Problem: The "Original Position" of John Rawls
Fairness as a Behavioral Problem: An Animal Instinct?
Fairness as a Mathematical Problem: The Problem of Fair Division

New World Societies: Comparative Approaches

Primary and Secondary Sources



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