Libertarianism and the Welfare State
Jason Brennan, Bas van der Vossen, and David Schmidtz, eds., The Routledge Handbook of Libertarianism (Routledge, 2016), Forthcoming
22 Pages Posted: 9 Mar 2016
Date Written: March 7, 2016
Most libertarians regard the welfare state as morally illegitimate. This paper will examine why opposition to the welfare state is the default libertarian position, and why some libertarians have deviated from this default in certain political and historical circumstances. Through a combination of intellectual history and philosophical argumentation, this paper aims to show that opposition to the welfare state is neither as universal nor as fundamental to libertarianism as has generally been assumed. Both moderate classical liberals and more radical libertarians can and have supported various forms of state-based welfare, though they generally differ both regarding their reasons for supporting redistribution, and regarding the kind of redistribution they favor.
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