Can libertarians care about social justice? In Free Market Fairness, John Tomasi argues that they can and should. Drawing simultaneously on moral insights from defenders of economic liberty such as F. A. Hayek and advocates of social justice such as John Rawls, Tomasi presents a new theory of liberal justice. This theory, free market fairness, is committed to both limited government and the material betterment of the poor. Unlike traditional libertarians, Tomasi argues that property rights are best defended not in terms of self-ownership or economic efficiency but as requirements of democratic legitimacy. At the same time, he encourages egalitarians concerned about social justice to listen more sympathetically to the claims ordinary citizens make about the importance of private economic liberty in their daily lives. In place of the familiar social democratic interpretations of social justice, Tomasi offers a "market democratic" conception of social justice: free market fairness. Tomasi argues that free market fairness, with its twin commitment to economic liberty and a fair distribution of goods and opportunities, is a morally superior account of liberal justice. Free market fairness is also a distinctively American ideal. It extends the notion, prominent in America's founding period, that protection of property and promotion of real opportunity are indivisible goals. Indeed, according to Tomasi, free market fairness is social justice, American style.
Provocative and vigorously argued, Free Market Fairness offers a bold new way of thinking about politics, economics, and justice--one that will challenge readers on both the left and right.
John Tomasi is professor of political science at Brown University, where he is also the founder and director of Brown's Political Theory Project. Tomasi holds degrees in political philosophy from the University of Oxford and the University of Arizona. He has held visiting fellowships and positions at Princeton, Harvard, and Stanford universities, and at the Freedom Center at the University of Arizona. He is the author of Liberalism Beyond Justice (Princeton).
"[Free Market Fairness's] aim is to question opposed modes of thought and find a way between them. Saying that his book was written for 'ideologically uncommitted readers,' Mr. Tomasi invites them and others to join him in exploring the ideas he has outlined. It is an invitation well worth accepting, especially in an election year."--Adam Wolfson, Wall Street Journal
"An extremely interesting and important project."--Ethics
"[I]mportant"--Andrew KoppelmanNotre Dame Philosophical Reviews
"In many respects, [Tomasi] is a classical liberal, but he also retains a strong commitment to the worst off in society. He is a supporter of both free-market capitalism and of safety nets. His goal is to combine economic liberty and social justice. In attempting to transcend the standard positions, he should be commended."--Daniel Ben-Ami, Spiked Review of Books
"Tomasi is a useful corrective to both Rawls and Hayek."--Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
"Brilliant. . . . The heart of Tomasi's book entails serious engagement with John Rawls and his liberal theory of justice as fairness."--Ryan T. Anderson, Weekly Standard
"Tomasi takes a significant step beyond classical and some types of social democratic liberalism in an attempt to find common ground. . . . Tomasi's 'market democracy' contributes important insight to the continuing political-economic debate."--Choice
Table of Contents
Another Princeton book authored or coauthored by John Tomasi: