Liberal Egalitarianism and the Harm Principle

27 Pages Posted: 29 Jul 2009 Last revised: 22 May 2013

See all articles by Michele Lombardi

Michele Lombardi

University of Liverpool - Management School (ULMS); University of Napoli Federico II

Kaname Miyagishima

Waseda University

Roberto Veneziani

University of London - School of Economics and Finance

Date Written: May 22, 2013

Abstract

This paper analyses the implications of classical liberal and libertarian approaches for distributive justice in the context of social welfare orderings. An axiom capturing a liberal non-interfering view of society, named the Weak Harm Principle, is studied, whose roots can be traced back to John Stuart Mill's essay On Liberty. It is shown that liberal views of individual autonomy and freedom can provide consistent foundations for social welfare judgements, in both the finite and the infinite context. In particular, a liberal non-interfering approach can help to adjudicate some fundamental distributive issues relative to intergenerational justice. However, a surprisingly strong and general relation is established between liberal views of individual autonomy and non-interference, and egalitarian principles in the Rawlsian tradition.

Keywords: difference principle, leximin, weak harm principle, infinite utility streams

JEL Classification: D63, D7, Q01

Suggested Citation

Lombardi, Michele and Miyagishima, Kaname and Veneziani, Roberto, Liberal Egalitarianism and the Harm Principle (May 22, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1440194 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1440194

Michele Lombardi (Contact Author)

University of Liverpool - Management School (ULMS) ( email )

Chatham Street
LIVERPOOL, L69 7ZH

University of Napoli Federico II ( email )

via Cintia Monte Sant'Angelo
Napoli
Italy

Kaname Miyagishima

Waseda University ( email )

1-104 Totsukamachi, Shinjuku-ku
tokyo, 169-8050
Japan

Roberto Veneziani

University of London - School of Economics and Finance ( email )

Mile End Road
London, E1 4NS
United Kingdom