The Age of Responsibility: Luck, Choice, and the Welfare State

The Age of Responsibility: Luck, Choice, and the Welfare State

by Yascha Mounk


View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for delivery by Thursday, April 15


A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice

Responsibility—which once meant the moral duty to help and support others—has come to be equated with an obligation to be self-sufficient. This has guided recent reforms of the welfare state, making key entitlements conditional on good behavior. Drawing on political theory and moral philosophy, Yascha Mounk shows why this re-imagining of personal responsibility is pernicious—and suggests how it might be overcome.

“This important book prompts us to reconsider the role of luck and choice in debates about welfare, and to rethink our mutual responsibilities as citizens.”
—Michael J. Sandel, author of Justice

“A smart and engaging book… Do we so value holding people accountable that we are willing to jeopardize our own welfare for a proper comeuppance?”
New York Times Book Review

“An important new book… [Mounk] mounts a compelling case that political rhetoric…has shifted over the last half century toward a markedly punitive vision of social welfare.”
Los Angeles Review of Books

“A terrific book. The insight at its heart—that the conception of responsibility now at work in much public rhetoric and policy is both punitive and ill-conceived—is very important and should be widely heeded.”
—Jedediah Purdy, author of After Nature: A Politics for the Anthropocene

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674237674
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 06/17/2019
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 536,221
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Yascha Mounk is Associate Professor of the Practice of International Affairs at Johns Hopkins University, a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund, and a senior advisor at Protect Democracy. A frequent contributor to the Atlantic, the New York Times, and Die Zeit, he is the host of Slate’s The Good Fight Podcast.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Ascendance of Personal Responsibility 1

1 The Origins of the Age of Responsibility 29

2 The Welfare State in the Age of Responsibility 70

3 The Denial of Responsibility 100

4 Reasons to Value Responsibility 145

5 A Positive Conception of Responsibility 172

Conclusion: Beyond the Age of Responsibility 208

Notes 213

Acknowledgments 266

Index 271

Customer Reviews