Social Theory and Practice 31 (4):465-482 (2005)

Robert S. Taylor
University of California, Davis
In the longstanding debate between liberals and libertarians over the morality of redistributive labor taxation, liberals such as John Rawls and Ronald Dworkin have consistently taken the position that such taxation is perfectly compatible with individual liberty, whereas libertarians such as Robert Nozick and Murray Rothbard have adopted the (very) contrary position that such taxation is tantamount to slavery. In this paper, I argue that the debate over redistributive labor taxation can be usefully reconstituted as a debate over the incidents (or components) of self-ownership, with liberals arguing for a narrow definition of the concept and libertarians arguing for a broad one. By using what Alan Ryan has called the “language of proprietorship,” I pinpoint precisely the source of the disagreement between liberals and libertarians and assess the relative strengths of their arguments. I also show that the respective definitions of self-ownership used by liberals and libertarians are deeply problematic—though for strikingly different reasons.
Keywords self-ownership  taxation  libertarianism  liberal egalitarianism
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ISBN(s) 0037-802X
DOI 10.5840/soctheorpract200531423
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Embodiment and Self-Ownership: Daniel C. Russell.Daniel C. Russell - 2010 - Social Philosophy and Policy 27 (1):135-167.
Uniform Exceptions and Rights Violations.Yvonne Chiu - 2010 - Social Theory and Practice 36 (1):44-77.
A Great Exploitation: The True Legacy of Property—A Review Essay: Rafe Blaufarb: The Great Demarcation: The French Revolution and the Invention of Modern Property.Paul Babie - 2018 - International Journal for the Semiotics of Law - Revue Internationale de Sémiotique Juridique 31 (4):977-992.

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