Left-Libertarian Theories of Justice

Revue Economique 50:859-878 (1999)
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Libertarian theories of justice hold that agents, at least initially, own themselves fully, and thus owe no service to others, except through voluntary action. The most familiar libertarian theories are right-libertarian in that they hold that natural resources are initially unowned and, under a broad range of realistic circumstances, can be privately appropriated without the consent of, or any significant payment to, the other members of society. Leftlibertarian theories, by contrast, hold that natural resources are owned by the members of society in some egalitarian manner, and may be appropriated only with their permission, or with a significant payment to them. Left-libertarian theories have been propounded for over two centuries[i], but in recent years there has been a revival of interest in them. Theories roughly of this sort have been explored by Kolm [1985, 1986] and Gibbard [1976], advocated by Steiner [1994], Grunebaum [1987], and Van Parijs [1995], and criticized by Cohen [1995]
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