Are the political ideals of liberty and equality compatible? This question is of central and continuing importance in political philosophy, moral philosophy, and welfare economics. In this book, two distinguished philosophers take up the debate. Jan Narveson argues that a political ideal of negative liberty is incompatible with any substantive ideal of equality, while James P. Sterba argues that Narveson's own ideal of negative liberty is compatible, and in fact leads to the requirements of a substantive ideal of equality. Of course, they cannot both be right. Thus, the details of their arguments about the political ideal of negative liberty and its requirements will determine which of them is right. Engagingly and accessibly written, their debate will be of value to all who are interested in the central issue of what are the practical requirements of a political ideal of liberty.
Jan Narveson is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Waterloo. His previous publications include The Libertarian Idea (1989), Moral Matters, 2nd edition (1999), Respecting Persons in Theory and Practice (2002) and You and the State (2008). In 2003, Professor Narveson was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in recognition of both his scholarly work and his lifelong promotion of music in his home cities of Kitchener and Waterloo, Ontario. James P. Sterba is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. His previous publications include Affirmative Action for the Future (2009), Does Feminism Discriminate Against Men?: A Debate (2008, co-authored with Warren Farrell), The Triumph of Practice over Theory in Ethics (2005) and Terrorism and Justice for Here and Now (1998).
Introduction; Part I. Equality is Compatible and Required by Liberty: 1. The practical requirements of an ideal of negative liberty; 2. Other attempts to show that libertarians should accept welfare or equality; 3. Objections from libertarians to my argument from liberty to equality; 4. My argument again and its future prospects; Part II. Liberty is Incompatible with the Right to Equality: 5. The issue framed; 6. The 'Social Contract' approach to moral philosophy; 7. The grounds for welfarism considered; 8. Conclusion; Part III. Responses: 9. Response to Narveson; 10. Response to Sterba.
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