What's Wrong with Libertarianism: A Meritocratic Diagnosis

In Jason Brennan, David Schmidtz & Bas van der Vossen (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Libertarianism. New York: Routledge. pp. 77-91 (2017)
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Some people may think that libertarianism and meritocracy have much in common; that the libertarian's ideal world looks like the meritocrat's ideal world; and that the public policies guiding us to each are one and the same. This is wrong in all respects. In this essay I explain why. After providing an overview of meritocratic justice, I argue that meritocracy is a more compelling theory of distributive justice than libertarianism. Meritocracy better protects the core value of personal responsibility; incorporates efficiency-enhancing regulation which libertarianism cannot; provides more positive liberty; and solves salient, real-world debates about distributive justice.

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Thomas Mulligan
Georgetown University


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