Self-Ownership, Freedom, and Equality
In this book G. A. Cohen examines the libertarian principle of self-ownership, which says that each person belongs to himself and therefore owes no service or product to anyone else. This principle is used to defend capitalist inequality, which is said to reflect each person's freedom to do as as he wishes with himself. The author argues that self-ownership cannot deliver the freedom it promises to secure, thereby undermining the idea that lovers of freedom should embrace capitalism and the inequality that comes with it. He goes on to show that the standard Marxist condemnation of exploitation implies an endorsement of self-ownership, since, in the Marxist conception, the employer steals from the worker what should belong to her, because she produced it. Thereby a deeply inegalitarian notion has penetrated what is in aspiration an egalitarian theory. Purging that notion from socialist thought, he argues, enables construction of a more consistent egalitarianism.
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abundance affirm Anarchy appropriation argue argument asset distribution autonomy believe bourgeois capitalism capitalist Chamberlain Chapter claim communism communist concept of self-ownership contrast critique Dworkin egalitarian endowment entitlement equality of condition example exchange-value exploitation external resources forced freedom gate theory Gauthier Ibid individual inequality Infirm initial injustice John Rawls John Roemer joint ownership justified Karl Marx labour power labour theory land left-wing libertarianism liberals liberty Locke Locke's Lockean market socialism Marx Marx's Marxists means of production moral nature normative Nozick objection obligation person political philosophy possible premiss principle of self-ownership private property proviso question Rawls reason redistribution reject relevant restrict Robert Nozick Roemer Ronald Dworkin self-owned sense situation slave slavery socialist society suppose surplus talent theory of justice theory of value thereby thesis of self-ownership things thought transactions true unequal unjust upshot use-value violated welfare Wilt Chamberlain workers worldly resources wrong