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SELF-OWNERSHIP AND WORLD OWNERSHIP: AGAINST LEFT-LIBERTARIANISM

  • Richard J. Arneson (a1)
Abstract
Abstract

Left-libertarianism is a version of Lockean libertarianism that combines the idea that each person is the full rightful owner of herself and the idea that each person should have the right to own a roughly equal amount of the world's resources. This essay argues against left-libertarianism. The specific target is an interesting form of left-libertarianism proposed by Michael Otsuka that is especially stringent in its equal world ownership claim. One criticism advanced is that there is more tension than Otsuka acknowledges between private ownership of self and equal ownership of the world. This emerges once one notices that self-ownership should not be conceived merely in a thin, formal way but also as a thicker substantive insistence on wide individual freedom. A second criticism is that in other respects the formal idea of self-ownership that Otsuka and other left-libertarians embrace is an extreme doctrine that merits rejection.

Abstract

Left-libertarianism is a version of Lockean libertarianism that combines the idea that each person is the full rightful owner of herself and the idea that each person should have the right to own a roughly equal amount of the world's resources. This essay argues against left-libertarianism. The specific target is an interesting form of left-libertarianism proposed by Michael Otsuka that is especially stringent in its equal world ownership claim. One criticism advanced is that there is more tension than Otsuka acknowledges between private ownership of self and equal ownership of the world. This emerges once one notices that self-ownership should not be conceived merely in a thin, formal way but also as a thicker substantive insistence on wide individual freedom. A second criticism is that in other respects the formal idea of self-ownership that Otsuka and other left-libertarians embrace is an extreme doctrine that merits rejection.

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Michael Otsuka , Libertarianism without Inequality (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003)

Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen , “Against Self-Ownership: There Are No Fact-Insensitive Ownership Rights Over One's Body,” Philosophy and Public Affairs 36, no. 1 (2008): 86118

John Locke , Two Treatises of Government, ed. Peter Laslett (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988)

G. A. Cohen , Self-Ownership, Freedom, and Equality (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995)

Peter Railton , “Locke, Stock, and Peril: Natural Property Rights, Pollution, and Risk” (1985), reprinted in Railton, Facts, Values, and Norms: Essays Toward a Morality of Consequence (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 187225

Richard J. Arneson , “The Shape of Lockean Rights: Fairness, Pareto, Moderation, and Consent,” Social Philosophy and Policy 22, no. 1 (2005): 255–85

Richard Arneson , “Primary Goods Reconsidered,” Noûs 24 (1990): 429–54, at 448

Richard Arneson , “Luck Egalitarianism Interpreted and Defended,” Philosophical Topics 32, nos. 1 and 2 (2004): 120

G. A. Cohen , Rescuing Justice and Equality (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008)

Peter Vallentyne , Hillel Steiner , and Michael Otsuka , “Why Left-Libertarianism Is Not Incoherent, Indeterminate, or Irrelevant: A Reply to Fried,” Philosophy and Public Affairs 33, no. 2 (2005): 201–15

Richard Arneson , “Joel Feinberg and the Justification of Hard Paternalism,” Legal Theory 11 (2005): 259–84

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Social Philosophy and Policy
  • ISSN: 0265-0525
  • EISSN: 1471-6437
  • URL: /core/journals/social-philosophy-and-policy
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