Are the political ideals of liberty and equality compatible? This question is of central and continuing importance in political philosophy, moral philosophy, and welfare economics. In this book, two distinguished philosophers take up the debate. Jan Narveson, author of The Libertarian Idea, argues that a political ideal of negative liberty is incompatible with any substantive ideal of equality; while James P. Sterba, author of Justice for Here and Now, argues that Narveson’s own ideal of negative liberty is compatible with, and in fact leads to the requirements of, a substantive ideal of equality. Of course, they cannot both be right. Thus, the details of their arguments about the political ideal of negative liberty and its requirements will determine which of them is right. Their debate will be of value to all who are interested in the central issue of what are the practical requirements of a political ideal of liberty.
Featuring Benjamin H. Friedman, Research Fellow in Defense and Homeland Security Studies, Cato Institute; Spencer Ackerman, Senior Writer, WIRED Magazine; and Julian Sanchez, Research Fellow, Cato Institute; moderated by Laura Odato, Director of Government Affairs, Cato Institute.
Featured PublicationWe are grateful to the Harry and Lynde Bradley Foundation and the Carthage Foundation whose support of the October 2012 Cato Conference “Europe’s Crisis and the Welfare State: Lessons for the United States” made possible this special issue of the Cato Journal.
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