Kant and Classical Liberalism: Friends or Foes?



Abstract: This paper explicates and defends Immanuel Kant’s claims that respect for individual freedom justifies taxation to support the poor only to the extent that individuals receiving assistance are brought up to the level of subsistence and nothing more. I show that the promotion of individual autonomy lies at the center of Kant’s moral theory and that his political philosophy aims to establish and secure the external conditions that make individual freedom possible. Although Kant argues that one way of securing these external conditions legitimately is through coercion, he also claims that coercion is justified only in the limited cases where it is used to hinder hindrances to freedom.

El Problema de la Generación del Estado en Spinoza (Contractualismo y Naturalismo en la Teoría Política de la Modernidad Temprana)



Abstract: El presente artículo busca determinar un modelo propiamente spinociano para pensar la generación del Estado descrita en el Tratado Político. Para ello se intenta desvincular el modelo utilizado por Spinoza del modelo contractualista (estado de naturaleza/pacto social/estado de civilidad), bajo el cual ha sido habitualmente pensado (incluso cuando se sostiene que es un modelo naturalista). Comenzaremos por identificar el “campo de presencia” sobre el cual tanto Hobbes como Spinoza se sitúan. Este será caracterizado bajo el rótulo general de “aristotelismo político”, intentando mostrar su ambigüedad fundamental, constitutiva del problema que tanto Hobbes como Spinoza buscan resolver. Luego, haremos un examen detallado del modelo por el cual Spinoza responde a dicho problema.

American Individualism Rises and Falls with the Economy: Cross-temporal Evidence that Individualism Declines When the Economy Falters



Abstract: Past work has shown that economic growth often engenders greater individualism. Yet much of this work charts changes in wealth and individualism over long periods of time, making it unclear whether rising individualism is primarily driven by wealth or by the social and generational changes that often accompany large-scale economic transformations. This article explores whether individualism is sensitive to more transient macroeconomic fluctuations, even in the absence of transformative social changes or generational turnover. Six studies found that individualism swelled during prosperous times and fell during recessionary times. In good economic times, Americans were more likely to give newborns uncommon names (Study 1), champion autonomy in children (Study 2), aspire to look different from others (Study 3), and favor music with self-focused language (Study 4). Conversely, when the economy was floundering, Americans were more likely to socialize children to attend to the needs of others (Study 2) and favor music with other-oriented language (Study 4). Subsequent studies found that recessions engendered uncertainty (Study 5) which in turn tempered individualism and fostered interdependence (Study 6).

An Interest Group Theory of Public Goods Provision: Reassessing the Relative Efficiency of the Market and the State



Abstract: Extending Brennan and Buchanan’s model of leviathan, in which rulers represent the residual claimants of constitutionally unconstrained tax revenue, this paper presents a model in which the government provides the level of public goods that maximizes its revenue surplus as a function of the cost of emigration. To the extent that emigration is impeded, government converges toward pure monopoly provision, generating monopoly rents that facilitate the rent-seeking society. In contrast with Niskanen’s model, in which governments tend to overproduce public goods, this model suggests that governments tend toward underproduction. This result undermines the notion that government must provide public goods to overcome the underproduction of private provision; in reality, government provision may be less efficient than private provision.

Elbow Room for Self-Defense


SOCIAL PHILOSOPHY AND POLICY, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp. 18-39

Abstract: This essay contrasts two approaches to permissible self-defensive killing. The first is the forfeiture approach; the second is the elbow room for self-defense approach. The forfeiture approach comes in many versions — not all of which make prominent use of the word “forfeiture.” However, all versions presume that the permissibility of X killing Y (when X must kill Y in order to prevent herself from being unjustly killed) depends entirely on there being some feature of Y in virtue of which Y has become liable to be killed, that is, in virtue of which Y has forfeited or lost or been stripped of his right not to be killed. Different versions of the forfeiture approach advance different claims about what feature of Y will render Y liable to being killed by X. I criticize versions of this approach offered by Thomson, Otsuka, and McMahan and argue that the shared deep error is the presumption that the permissibility of X’s action turns entirely on some feature of Y. In focusing entirely on Y, the forfeiture approach fails to take seriously X’s right of self-defense. In contrast, the elbow room for self-defense approach starts with an explication of a plausible right of self-defense and maintains that a proper explication of Y’s right not to be killed must make moral elbow room from X’s exercise of this right. Within the elbow room approach, Y’s liability to being killed is based upon X’s right of self-defense rather than the permissibility of X’s killing Y being based upon Y’s forfeiture.

Financial Property Rights Under Colonialism: Some Counterfactual Possibilities


JOURNAL OF INSTITUTIONAL ECONOMICS, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp. 797-824

Abstract: This article seeks to explain the lack of the development of contemporaneously ‘modern’ money and credit markets in the 18th to 19th century economy of India. Borrowing from the literature on property rights, it demonstrates that the emergence of ‘modern’, and state-connected money markets was the result of a certain kind of power relationship between rulers and financial capital holders where the two were forced to mutually cooperate; financial systems represented the institutionalization of this mutual cooperation. Specific kinds of ‘colonialism’ represent just one special case of a relationship where the latter did not obtain. The article thus proposes a mechanism though which the spread of European capital could have retarded financial market formation in now-developing areas with otherwise considerable concentration of ‘native’ mercantile capital.

Viscardo’s Global Political Economy and the First Cry for Spanish American Independence, 1767–1798


JOURNAL OF LATIN AMERICAN STUDIES, Volume 48, Issue 3, August 2016, pp. 537-564

Abstract: Algunos historiadores revisionistas han argumentado de manera convincente que la independencia de la América española no fue el resultado de una suma de agravios que galvanizaron una identidad nacional o criolla en contra de España. Dichos historiadores proponen que las identidades nacionales hispanoamericanas no existían en ese momento y que la independencia fue un proceso inesperado que debe entenderse en el contexto de la invasión napoleónica de la península ibérica. No obstante, si la independencia no era deseable antes de 1808 y si las identidades nacionales emergieron en un periodo posterior, ¿cómo nos explicamos los precoces proyectos independentistas de ‘precursores’ como Juan Pablo Viscardo y Guzmán? Al reconstruir contextualmente la lógica subyacente de los proyectos de Viscardo, este artículo ofrece una nueva perspectiva sobre las condiciones intelectuales que posibilitaron la independencia de Hispanoamérica. El material señala que a pesar de identificarse como un criollo peruano, Viscardo en realidad utilizó una ciencia global de comercio derivada de la Ilustración, no un patriotismo criollo o un proyecto nacionalista, para legitimar la independencia hispanoamericana.