Dictionary of Arguments


Philosophical and Scientific Issues in Dispute
 
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Disputed term/author/ism Author
Entry
Reference
Freedom Steiner Gaus I 127
Freedom/negative freedom/luberty/Steiner/Gaus/Mack: (...) the left libertarianism of Hillel Steiner advocates a radical version of negative liberty. Building his theory on a Hobbesian conception of negative liberty, Steiner holds that 'Broadly speaking, it suggests that a person is unfree to do an action if, and only if, his doing that action is rendered impossible by the action of another person' (1994(1): 8). If, am free to X if and only if I cannot be prevented by another from X-ing, then it follows that I am free to X if and only if none of the locations and objects necessary to X-ing are controlled by others, or would be controlled by others should I attempt to X. Thus 'Freedom is the possession of things' (1994(1): 39). ((s) Hillel SteinerVsVan Parijs).
But to have a right to freedom requires more: it is to have a title to a domain of locations and things: it is to have property rights (1994: 81). Thus all rights to freedom are property rights, and all property rights are rights to freedom, a claim made by many in the liberty tradition (....).
Steiner claims that his account of liberty as property rights has a virtue lacking in competing theories of rights: compossibility. If rights are defined in terms of intentional actions - e.g. I have a right to see a film tomorrow and you have a right to wreck a building tomorrow - they can conflict (...).
>Justice/Hillel Steiner, >Rights/Hillel Steiner.

1. Steiner, Hillel (1994) An Essay on Rights. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.

Mack, Eric and Gaus, Gerald F. 2004. „Classical Liberalism and Libertarianism: The Liberty Tradition.“ In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications.


Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004
Jobs Van Parijs Gaus I 128
Jobs/income/labour/Van Parijs/Gaus/Mack: the core of Van Parijs' argument for treating jobs as assets is that, for a variety of reasons, workers are paid above the market-clearing wage; this constitutes a rent, and should be considered an additional element of their endowment (Van Parijs, 1995(1): 108). >Income Va Parijs, >Income/Hillel Steiner.
In our economies a worker's endowment can have a value of X (the income she would receive
from her job given a market-clearing wage), but she may receive X+n; the value of n is a rent which Van Parijs counts as a social resource.
Now suppose we are in a situation with a market clearing wage: the marginal entrant gets X and so collects no rent, but given uniform pricing all non-marginal entrants collect a surplus - they would work for X-m, but still receive X.
Van Parijs, however, explicitly excludes these as rents (1995(1): 264, n35). His complaint, then, is not that many people get more than they require to do their job;
Example: it is that if Marge the marginal worker gets more than she requires, there exists some unemployed person Maggie who would take the job at a lower wage than Marge, but Marge
has claimed this scare resource and so effectively denies to it Maggie.
Van Parijs sees everyone who gets rent n as having claimed a scarce social resource, and so their rent may be taxed away.
WilliamsVsVan Parijs: However jobs cannot be considered simply as unalloyed resources to be distributed, but as packages of rights and liabilities (Williams, 2003)(2). Given these liabilities, many do not want a job even if it is offered to them: it does not count as a resource to
them since they would not take it at any price because since they don't want to work. It looks as
if Van Parijs is exploiting those who work to support those who do not want to: those uninterested in actually doing the job receive a sort of compensation for being excluded from it.
Moreover, this is especially odd in a 'libertarian' theory: the benefits of an uncoerced agreement between two free agents employing their labour and property - an employment contract - is said to generate a social resource to which all others have something like an equal claim.


1. Van Parijs, Phillipe (1995) Real Freedom for All: What (If Anything) Can Justify Capitalism? Oxford: Clarendon.
2. Williams, Andrew (2003) 'Resource egalitarianism and the limits to basic income'. In Real Libertarianism Assessed: Political Theory after Van Parijs, ed. Andrew Reeve and Andrew Williams. Houndsmill, Basingstoke: Palgrave: Il 1—35.


Mack, Eric and Gaus, Gerald F. 2004. „Classical Liberalism and Libertarianism: The Liberty Tradition.“ In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications.


Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004
Social Minimum Van Parijs Gaus I 126
Social Minimum/Van Parijs/Gaus/Mack: (...)each person has the greatest possible opportunity to do whatever she might want to do (leximin opportunity) (1995(1):25). As Van Parijs explains, this last condition requires that 'in a free society, the person with least opportunities has opportunities that are no smaller than those enjoyed by the person with the least opportunities under any other feasible arrangement' (1995(1): 25). And this in turn leads to the requirement that a society provides the highest sustainable basic income for all (...)
RawlsVsVan Parijs: see Rawls 2002(2): 179.
>Justice/Rawls, >Social Minimum/Rawls, >J. Rawls.
Van Parijs: (...) the equalization of external endowments that drives redistribution: if someone produces without using resources in scarce supply she has the right to her full product,
but because production always requires such resources, his basic income proposal does not lead to exploitation of the industrious. fruits of Green labour.
Coincidence: Van Parijs's intuition is that luck must be irrelevant to justice (1995(1): 160): if
some have managed to actually produce while others have tried and failed because of bad luck or natural adversities (see also Steiner, 2001)(3), they have a claim on those who do produce.
Gaus I 127
Traditional liberalismVsVan Parijs/Gaus: this is not an intuition shared by the liberty tradition (Rand, 1957)(4). It violates doctrinal commitment (...) of the liberty tradition against seizure of the fruits of another's labour, a commitment that, unsurprisingly, Van Parijs rejects (1995(1): 145ff). Moreover, Van Parijs's position seems to illustrate how violations of [the] commitment (...) also compromise persons' claims to self-sovereignty (...). >Liberalism.

1. Van Parijs, Phillipe (1995) Real Freedom for All: What (If Anything) Can Justify Capitalism? Oxford: Clarendon.
2. Rawls, John (2002) Justice as Fairness: A Restatement, ed. Erin Kelly Cambridge, MA: Belknap.
3. Steiner, Hillel (2001) 'The ethics of redistribution'. Acta Philosophica Fennica, 68: 37-45.
4. Rand, Ayn (1957) Atlas Shrugged. New York: Dutton.

Mack, Eric and Gaus, Gerald F. 2004. „Classical Liberalism and Libertarianism: The Liberty Tradition.“ In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications.


Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004


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