Libertarianism: What Everyone Needs to Know

By Jason Brennan | Go to book overview

7
SOCIAL JUSTICE AND
THE POOR

75. What is social justice?

Social justice, or distributive justice, is a moral standard by which some people judge political and economic institutions. Advocates of social justice believe the moral justification of our institutions depends on how well these institutions serve the interests of the poor and least advantaged. The basic institutions of society must sufficiently benefit all, including the least advantaged and most vulnerable members of society.


76. Do most libertarians reject social justice?

“Hard libertarians” (see question 5) reject social justice. In their view, justice only requires that people respect one another’s rights.

Hard libertarians tend to assume that a commitment to social justice entails a commitment to a welfare state that redistributes wealth. The hard libertarian philosopher Robert Nozick argues that we cannot ask how we should distribute wealth unless we have the right to distribute it. Suppose you find a lost wallet. Justice requires that you return the wallet to its owner. You shouldn’t worry about what’s the best way to distribute the money—the money is not yours to distribute.

-129-

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Libertarianism: What Everyone Needs to Know
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction xi
  • 1 - The Basics of Libertarianism 1
  • 2 - The Nature and Value of Liberty 26
  • 3 - Human Nature and Ethics 42
  • 4 - Government and Democracy 54
  • 5 - Civil Rights 81
  • 6 - Economic Freedom 105
  • 7 - Social Justice and the Poor 129
  • 8 - Contemporary Problems 150
  • 9 - Politics- Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow 172
  • Glossary 185
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 191
  • Index 199
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