Abstract: In his article “Nozick’s Argument for the Legitimacy of the Welfare State,” Michael Davis seeks to establish a line of reasoning justifying an extensive state based largely on what he interprets to be Robert Nozick’s theory of entitlement. According to Davis, this argument can easily be constructed and merely depends on “seeing most so-called free-rider problems from a new angle, that of property.” If his view were defensible it would have implications far beyond questions regarding Nozick’s minimal state or even governmental authority and private enterprise. However, even if measured against Davis’ own criterion of adequacy, his argument fails. It fails because it violates the principle of liberty and builds on a misguided interpretation of compensation. This result is important not only in the context of the debate about right-libertarian restrictions on state functions, but also the free-riding debate more generally.
Download Paper: “A Free-Rider Perspective on Property Rights”
Abstract: In their 2013 Science article, “Morals and Markets,” Armin Falk and Nora Szech presented experimental evidence that markets erode moral values. The present paper addresses problems in their experiment design, treatments, and operational definitions. Laboratory settings are ideal for uncovering certain causal connections, but fall short when market participation is a treatment and moral erosion is a measured outcome. Markets are difficult, if not impossible, to simulate and moral erosion is difficult, if not impossible, to define and measure for the purposes of an experiment. Falk and Szech’s experiment may also suffer from more mundane issues like priming effects, experimenter effects, and changing more than one variable per treatment group.
Download Paper: “Morals and Markets: A Response”
While the consumer benefits from the new products and improved production processes due to creative destruction, the major downside to creative destruction is technological unemployment. However, policies adopted by government and by workers can increase the upside and reduce the downside. Governments can enable entrepreneurial innovation by allowing the labor market to be flexible. A government safety net is also considered. However, workers can become more resilient in attitude and frugal in spending in order to cope with technological unemployment, and can invest in more diversified and enduring human capital. The family can also provide a private safety net. The process of creative destruction is not a zero-sum game.
Download Paper: “The Creative Destruction of Labor Policy.”
Abstract: Focusing on a particular facet of entitlement theory, I criticize the view that Nozick’s version of the theory provides an adequate description of procedural justice. I agree with Nozick that justice is procedural; however, I believe his entitlement theory as it currently stands is incomplete. I show that Nozick is committed to believing that the implied content of his entitlement theory is unjust, and therefore that a certain set of market transactions ought to be judged as legally wrong according to Nozick’s own political foundations. Furthermore, I demonstrate that the Non-Aggression Principle is inconsistent with what a procedurally just entitlement theory would require, and therefore diminishes the degree to which a full-fledged account of distributive justice can properly be called libertarian. Finally, I offer a principle intended as a starting point for a discussion of what constitutes just transfer, and briefly speculate as to the legal results of implementing such a principle.
Abstract: Raymond V. McNally was an economist at the Henry George School of Social Science in New York City. This article was written shortly after the entry of the United States into World War II, and presumably remained unpublished because of the unsettled times. It recently came to light among the papers of Spencer Heath, to be domiciled at the Universidad Francisco Marroquín. In the paper, McNally describes the important social role—both present and potential—of property in land, thus offering a broader understanding of the basic Georgian concept of rent as the natural fund for public services. To clarify the nature of public enterprise, McNally first examines private enterprise in terms of the production and distribution of services, viewed in light of the role played by owners. He then shows that the two kinds of enterprise, private and public, are alike with respect to distribution but differ with respect to production, due to incomplete development of the ownership role in the latter. He suggests that this anomaly will be resolved as owners in public enterprise develop a scientific understanding of their role and bring it into alignment with that of owners in private enterprise. Hence, the author anticipates that the evolution of normal economic, as opposed to political, provision of public services will lead to the abandonment of taxation and its ills.
Download Paper: “Some Observations on the Nature of Public Enterprise”
Abstract: The strength of many arguments for Classical Liberalism is often challenged on the grounds that these arguments appeal to controversial metaphysical structures or moral principles. To avoid these challenges, I appeal to a set of epistemic considerations to show that, in order to structure a society that affords optimal opportunity for citizens to obtain their interests, we have a rational obligation to protect individuals’ freedom to pursue those interests. In this paper, I defend the second premise of a larger argument for Classical Liberalism and, ultimately, for negative natural rights. I conclude that each individual has a prima facie reason to regard every other individual as having an epistemic advantage with respect to evidence regarding their interests and how to obtain them.
Download Paper: “Prolegomena to an Epistemic Case for Classical Liberalism”
Abstract: Some state legislatures have considered legislation that would modify laws governing the right to carry a firearm in specific areas including college campuses. Currently firearms are banned on nearly all college campuses throughout the United States. Proponents of the bans on firearms argue that allowing firearms on campuses would likely result in dramatic increases in gun violence. In this paper we investigate the relationship between right-to-carry policies and crime rates on campus using reported crime data from colleges located in five western U.S. states, two of which allow firearms on campuses, for the years 2001-2009. No evidence is found supporting the argument that the right to carry a firearm is associated with an increase in the reported crime rate in any examined category.