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2 H i g h e r E d u c a t i o n © Oxford University Press, All rights reserved. Chapter 3: Political theory: Social justice and the state Barr: Economics of the Welfare State: 4e
2 H i g h e r E d u c a t i o n © Oxford University Press, All rights reserved. Organization of the chapter 1. Theories of society 2. Libertarian views 3. Liberal theories of society 4. Collectivist views 5. Implications for the role of the state
2 H i g h e r E d u c a t i o n © Oxford University Press, All rights reserved. 1 Theories of society A society is a co-operative venture for the mutual advantage of its members It generally contains both an identity of interests and conflicts of interest between individuals and groups The institutions of any society (its constitution, laws, and social processes) profoundly influence a person’s life chances The purpose of a theory of society is to offer principles which enable us to choose between different social arrangements
2 H i g h e r E d u c a t i o n © Oxford University Press, All rights reserved. 2 Libertarian views The Libertarian aim: to maximise individual liberty Natural rights libertarians argue that state intervention is morally wrong except in very specific circumstances Empirical libertarians argue that state intervention will reduce total welfare; Hayek argues that the pursuit of social justice will destroy the market order
2 H i g h e r E d u c a t i o n © Oxford University Press, All rights reserved. 3 Liberal theories of society
2 H i g h e r E d u c a t i o n © Oxford University Press, All rights reserved. 3.1 Utilitarianism The utilitarian aim: policy should seek to maximise the total utility of members of society
2 H i g h e r E d u c a t i o n © Oxford University Press, All rights reserved. 3.2 Rawls on social justice The original position and the Veil of Ignorance The principles of justice The liberty principle The different principle The Rawlsian aim: policy should benefit the least well-off Rawls and utilitarianism
2 H i g h e r E d u c a t i o n © Oxford University Press, All rights reserved. 4 Collectivist views
2 H i g h e r E d u c a t i o n © Oxford University Press, All rights reserved. 4.1 Democratic socialism Socialist aims: liberty, equality, fraternity Democratic socialism argues that government intervention has made it possible to harness the market system to socialist goals, hence their support for a mixed economy
2 H i g h e r E d u c a t i o n © Oxford University Press, All rights reserved. 4.2 Marxists The Marxist approach The exploitation of labour under capitalism The role of government in a capitalist society is to protect capitalism The Marxist state has a primary role in production and allocation, as well as in distribution and redistribution
2 H i g h e r E d u c a t i o n © Oxford University Press, All rights reserved. 5 Implications for the role of the state
2 H i g h e r E d u c a t i o n © Oxford University Press, All rights reserved. 5.1 Theoretical issues Criticisms of liberalism by libertarians Criticisms of liberalism by collectivists Criticisms of libertarianism Criticisms of collectivism
2 H i g h e r E d u c a t i o n © Oxford University Press, All rights reserved. 5.2 Policy implications The different theories of society have very different views about: Private property Taxation Redistribution Public production
2 H i g h e r E d u c a t i o n © Oxford University Press, All rights reserved. 5.3 Attitudes towards the welfare state Natural-rights libertarians abhor the welfare state Empirical libertarians see a role for a highly parsimonious welfare state whose main purpose is poverty relief Liberals and democratic socialists regard the welfare state for the most part as beneficial Marxists are ambivalent Is the welfare state a victory for the workers? Or is its main function to protect the capitalist system?
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