Facing Up to Scarcity: The Logic and Limits of Nonconsequentialist Thought

ISBN : 9780198847878

Barbara Fried
288 Pages
153 x 234 mm
Pub date
Feb 2020
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Facing Up to Scarcity offers a powerful critique of the nonconsequentialist approaches that have been dominant in Anglophone moral and political thought over the last fifty years. In these essays Barbara H. Fried examines the leading schools of contemporary nonconsequentialist thought, including Rawlsianism, Kantianism, libertarianism, and social contractarianism. In the realm of moral philosophy, she argues that nonconsequentialist theories grounded in the sanctity of "individual reasons" cannot solve the most important problems taken to be within their domain. Those problems, which arise from irreducible conflicts among legitimate (and often identical) individual interests, can be resolved only through large-scale interpersonal trade-offs of the sort that nonconsequentialism foundationally rejects. In addition to scrutinizing the internal logic of nonconsequentialist thought, Fried considers the disastrous social consequences when nonconsequentialist intuitions are allowed to drive public policy. In the realm of political philosophy, she looks at the treatment of distributive justice in leading nonconsequentialist theories. Here one can design distributive schemes roughly along the lines of the outcomes favoured-but those outcomes are not logically entailed by the normative premises from which they are ostensibly derived, and some are extraordinarily strained interpretations of those premises. Fried concludes, as a result, that contemporary nonconsequentialist political philosophy has to date relied on weak justifications for some very strong conclusions.


1 Introduction

2 Facing Up to Risk

3 What Does Matter? The Case for Killing the Trolley Problem (or Letting it Die)

4 Can Scanlonian Contractualism Save Us From Aggregation?

5 Tortious Harms

6 Can Contractualism Be Saved?

7 Is Nozick a Libertarian?

8 Rawls, Risk, and the Maximin Principle

9 The Unwritten Theory of Justice: Rawlsian Liberalism versus Libertarianism

10 Left-Libertarianism

11 Wilt Chamberlain Revisited: Nozick's Justice in Transfer and the Problem of Market-Based Distribution

12 If You Don't Like It, Leave It: The Problem of Exit in Social Contractarian Arguments

13 The Case for a Progressive Benefits Tax

About the author: 

Barbara Fried is the William W. and Gertrude H. Saunders Professor of Law at Stanford University. Her scholarly interests lie at the intersection of law, economics, and philosophy. She has written extensively on questions of distributive justice in the areas of tax policy, property theory, and political theory. She is also the author of a path-breaking intellectual history of the Progressive-era law and economics movement.

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