Liberty Review

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Fleecing the Young

INDEPENDENT REVIEW 21.1 (2016): 5-28

Abstract: Moral philosophy’s concern with the justice of the basic framework of society stands in need of rebalancing. Theorists have devoted considerable attention to injustices committed across lines of race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and, especially, economic position. Far less attended are concerns of intergenerational fairness. That omission is serious. Unemployment, debt, retirement age, social welfare programs, pension law, labor market regulation, minimum wage, and the like are components of institutional structures that bestow benefits and burdens on citizens. I contend that these benefits and burdens do not fall willy-nilly on people of various ages but rather overwhelmingly tip the generational balance in favor of the old.

Filed under: Economics, Philosophy, Politics

Unparadoxical Liberalism

SAN DIEGO LAW REVIEW (Forthcoming 2016)

Abstract: Larry Alexander argues that liberalism is internally incoherent, because it contains a paradox: it is committed to toleration, but if it tolerates illiberal ideas and practices, it betrays itself. The paradox does not exist. Liberalism aims to tolerate as much diversity as it can consistent with the preservation of the liberal project. It has distinctive reasons to tolerate illiberal ideas, since it aims to be adopted by the citizenry consciously and with a full understanding of the alternatives. How much diversity can in practice be tolerated is a contingent question dependent on the facts of any particular time and place. Whether domestic fascists, for example, need to be suppressed in order to avoid disaster, is a matter of prediction based on local knowledge. It is not a philosophical question.

Filed under: Law, Philosophy, Political Theory

Freedom as Independence

ETHICS 126.4 (2016). DOI: 10.1086/686006

Abstract: Much recent philosophical work on social freedom focuses on whether freedom should be understood as noninterference, in the liberal tradition associated with Isaiah Berlin, or as nondomination, in the republican tradition revived by Philip Pettit and Quentin Skinner. We defend a conception of freedom that lies between these two alternatives: freedom as independence. Like republican freedom, it demands the robust absence of relevant constraints on action. Unlike republican, and like liberal freedom, it is not moralized. We showcase the virtues of this conception and offer a novel map of the logical space in which different conceptions of freedom are located.

Filed under: Philosophy, Political Theory

The Perils of Privacy Regulation


Abstract: Advocates of digital privacy law believe it is necessary to correct failures in the market for digital privacy. Though legislators allegedly craft digital privacy regulation to protect consumers, some advocates have understated the dangers that digital privacy law may engender. This paper provides evidence for Kirzner’s “perils of regulation” in the digital privacy arena. The regulatory process fails to simulate the market process, stifles entrepreneurial discovery, and creates opportunities for superfluous discovery. My research suggests that policy-makers should consider a more holistic accounting of the costs before imposing additional digital privacy regulation.

Filed under: Economics, Law

Decision Sciences and the New Case For Paternalism: Three Welfare-related Justificatory Challenges


Abstract: Several authors have recently advocated a so-called new case for paternalism, according to which empirical findings from distinct decision sciences provide compelling reasons in favour of paternalistic interference. In their view, the available behavioural and neuro-psychological findings enable paternalists to address traditional anti-paternalistic objections and reliably enhance the well-being of their target agents. In this paper, I combine insights from decision-making research, moral philosophy and evidence-based policy evaluation to assess the merits of this case. In particular, I articulate and defend three complementary arguments that, I claim, challenge even the best available calls for such case. In doing so, I identify the main justificatory challenges faced by the new paternalists and explicate the implications of these challenges for the ongoing philosophical debate about the justifiability of paternalistic interference.

Filed under: Economics, Philosophy, Politics, Science

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