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Democratic Capitalism: A Reply to Critics (Symposium: John Tomasi’s Free Market Fairness)

CRITICAL REVIEW 26. 3-4 (2014): 439-471

The ten essays in Critical Review‘s symposium on Tomasi’s Free Market Fairness offer a rich and varied set of challenges to the market-democratic research program. To meet these criticisms, Tomasi refines a central claim of market democracy: that the right to private ownership of productive property is a basic right. In response to the worry that market democracy allows for class domination, he revises market democracy on the issue of bequests.  Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Philosophy, Political Theory

The Intergenerational Case for Constitutional Rigidity


A legal provision is “rigid” whenever amendment rules require more than a simple majority. While some constitutions are not rigid and can be modified by simple majority (as in the case of New Zealand), in other cases they include provisions that are super-rigid since they include unrevisable provisions (as in Germany, France, or Turkey). Political thinkers such as Kant, Condorcet, and Jefferson realized that constitutional rigidity might be objectionable. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Law

Tocqueville on the Modern Moral Situation: Democracy and the Decline of Devotion


Abstract: Most scholarship on the moral dimensions of Tocqueville’s analysis of democracy focuses on the doctrine of enlightened self-interest. Surprisingly little has been written about his account of the underlying moral shift that makes this doctrine necessary. Drawing principally on Volume II of Democracy in America, but also on Tocqueville’s letters and notes, the author unearths his fascinating and compelling account of why modern democratic man loses his admiration for devotion and embraces self-interest. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Political Theory

Surnames and Social Mobility in England, 1170–2012

HUMAN NATURE (2014). ADVANCED ONLINE PUBLICATION. DOI10.1007/s12110-014-9219-y

Using educational status in England from 1170 to 2012, the authors argue that the rate of social mobility in any society can be estimated from knowledge of just two facts: the distribution over time of surnames in the society and the distribution of surnames among an elite or underclass. Such surname measures reveal that social mobility in England in 2012 was little greater than in preindustrial times. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Economics, History, Politics, Society

From Scepticism to Liberalism? Bernard Williams, the Foundations of Liberalism and Political Realism


Abstract: Bernard Williams was an ethical sceptic, but he was also a proponent of liberalism. To what extent can one finally be both? This article explores this question through a particular emphasis on Williams, but seeks to draw wider lessons regarding what ethical scepticism should and should not amount to. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Philosophy, Political Theory

The Economics of Guilds


Abstract: Occupational guilds in medieval and early modern Europe offered an effective institutional mechanism whereby two powerful groups, guild members and political elites, could collaborate in capturing a larger slice of the economic pie and redistributing it to themselves at the expense of the rest of the economy. Guilds provided an organizational mechanism for groups of businessmen to negotiate with political elites for exclusive legal privileges that allowed them to reap monopoly rents. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Economics, History, Politics

Summaries Archive

Recent Posts: Liberty Review Books

Historical Essay on the Neapolitan Revolution of 1799. Edited by Bruce Haddock and Filippo Sabetti. Translated by David Gibbons. University of Toronto Press. 2014

Deeply influenced by Enlightenment writers from Naples and France, Vincenzo Cuoco (1770–1823) was forced into exile for his involvement in the failed Neapolitan revolution of 1799. Living in Milan, he wrote what became one of the nineteenth century’s most important treatises on political revolution. This critical edition, featuring an authoritative translation, introduction, and annotations, finally makes […]

Law, Psychology, and Morality: The Role of Loss Aversion. Eyal Zamir. Oxford University Press. 2014

Kahneman and Tversky’s Prospect Theory posits that people do not perceive outcomes as final states of wealth or welfare, but rather as gains or losses in relation to some reference point. People are generally loss averse, meaning that the disutility generated by a loss is greater than the utility produced by a commensurate gain. Loss […]

Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies. Nick Bostrom. Oxford University Press. 2014

Superintelligence asks the questions: What happens when machines surpass humans in general intelligence? Will artificial agents save or destroy us? Nick Bostrom lays the foundation for understanding the future of humanity and intelligent life.

Recent Posts: Liberty Review América Latina

A Proposal of Monetary Reform for Argentina: Flexible Dollarization and Free Banking

NICOLÁS CACHANOSKY, ADRIÁN RAVIER THE INDEPENDENT INSTITUTE 19.3 (2015): 397-426 Argentina’s economy and monetary institutions are, once again, experiencing a serious crisis. In this article, the authors propose a monetary reform for Argentina that consists of flexible dollarization plus a free banking regime.

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