Why Democracy Needs Public Goods

Why Democracy Needs Public Goods

by Angela Kallhoff


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Why Democracy Needs Public Goods presents a new theoretical perspective on public goods based on a framework of political philosophy. Angela Kallhoff responds to negative narratives on public goods that point out their role in causing market failures, their cost on public finance and in regulation, and their irregular and sometimes negative effects on social interaction. She instead provides a normative approach arguing for their role in supporting democracies at critical points by providing the basis for a public forum through public space and infrastructure, improving social inclusion through public healthcare and education, and fostering a sense of national identity. This book also features a comprehensive description of other arguments and theoretical approaches to public goods, as well as assessing the classical economic approach of collective action theory and counter arguments from the so-called libertarian camp. Kallhoff also analyzes the problems of regulatory frameworks and the normative issues resulting from the need to support by means of public finance. These perspectives will be most significant to political philosophers and policymakers, though the language used and the examples given will make Kallhoff's arguments comprehensible to non-experts as well.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780739151006
Publisher: Lexington Books
Publication date: 07/14/2011
Pages: 172
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Angela Kallhoff is professor of ethics and applied ethics at the University of Vienna, Austria.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

1 Introducing Public Goods 1

Two Perspectives on Public Goods 3

Context of Analysis 4

Diversity and Democracy 6

Prospect 8

2 Theoretical Background 13

The Technical Definition Reconsidered 14

A Definition of Public Goods 18

Types of Collective Goods 21

A List of Public Goods 23

3 Problems of Supply Reconsidered 29

Market Failures 30

Group Size and Motivation 34

Collective Choice: Caught in a Trap? 35

Getting the Critique Right 37

4 Generating the Public 41

The Role of Public Goods in Generating the Public 43

Challenging the Arguments 47

John Dewey's Bewildered Public 49

An Extension of Habermas's Public Forum 52

Beyond the Fact of Association 58

5 Claims for Social Justice 65

Social Justice as Social Inclusion 67

Public Goods in Theories of Social Justice 69

A Principle of Fairness 73

Central Public Goods 74

The Distributive Paradigm Reconsidered 77

Public Goods as Social Equalizers 80

6 Political Self-Determination 87

The Unanimity Rule Reconsidered 89

Healing Participatory Deficits 91

Public Goods and Rights 93

Self-determination Reconsidered 95

Committed Democracy 98

7 Conditions of a Reasonable Pluralism 103

Health Care and Education: Some Historical Remarks 107

A Solution from Political Liberalism 110

Three Value Dimensions 112

A Void in the Public Square 116

Towards Diversity 118

8 A Reply to Libertarians 125

Governmental Practices Involved in Public Goods Regimes 127

An Analysis of Arguments 128

Empirical Arguments against "Big Government" 129

Normative Arguments against "Big Government" 130

Empirical Arguments against Intervention 131

Normative Arguments against Intervention 133

Against a Folk Theorem 135

9 Conclusion 141

Bibliography 147

Index 155

About the Author 163

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