Rule Egalitarianism: The Egalitarian Tilt of Classical Liberalism
MetadataShow full item record
Classical liberalism has wrongly been regarded as an ideology that rejects the welfare state. This study endeavours to replace this far too common reading of the classical liberal tradition with an approach I term “rule egalitarianism”. Not only is classical liberalism compatible with social justice, but it can also help us understand why some egalitarian endeavours are an essential feature of a market society. If a necessary link exists between the classical liberal tradition and the moral and institutional dimensions of the rule of law, then this tradition is bound to uphold a substantial form of social justice. Coherence requires that classical liberals adopt an authentic egalitarian program by which I mean that if the set of beliefs classical liberals like Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, and Richard Epstein have favoured is justified, then it follows that we should have social justice in market societies. The neoclassical liberal tradition, represented by scholars like Jason Brenan and John Tomasi, has recently argued that social justice requires market capitalism. My argument, conversely, is slightly more ambitious – market capitalism requires social justice, or, to be more precise, classical liberals cannot argue for market capitalism without also arguing for social justice, because of their prior commitment to the rule of law. They must ameliorate poverty and limit extreme inequality of wealth. There is indeed a need to provide a principled grounding for egalitarian policies within classical liberalism, while at the same time showing how only some such policies are compatible with the main tenets of the classical liberal tradition. This grounding has two dimensions – showing what is compatible, and showing what is required. The rule egalitarian program provides us with such grounding from a classical liberal standpoint.
URI for this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/1974/15908
Request an alternative formatIf you require this document in an alternate, accessible format, please contact the Queen's Adaptive Technology Centre
The following license files are associated with this item: