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Cover Contemporary Political Philosophy

4. Libertarianism  

This chapter focuses on libertarianism and its main assumptions. According to libertarians, people have a right to dispose freely of their goods and services, and that they have this right whether or not it is the best way to ensure productivity. Put another way, government has no right to interfere in the market, even in order to increase efficiency. The chapter begins with a discussion of the diversity of right-wing political theory, with particular emphasis on Robert Nozick’s entitlement theory of justice and his intuitive argument. It then considers the idea of a right to liberty and the contractarian idea of mutual advantage, along with Nozick’s principle of ‘self-ownership’. The chapter concludes with an analysis of the politics of libertarianism, taking into account its rejection of the principle of rectifying unequal circumstances, even as it shares with liberal equality a commitment to the principle of respect for people’s choices.