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Liberalism and Distributive Justice$
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Samuel Freeman

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190699260

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190699260.001.0001

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Capitalism in the Classical and High Liberal Traditions

Capitalism in the Classical and High Liberal Traditions

(p.17) 1 Capitalism in the Classical and High Liberal Traditions
Liberalism and Distributive Justice

Samuel Freeman

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the main distinguishing features of two liberal traditions—classical liberalism and what I call “the high liberal tradition”—and their respective positions regarding capitalism as an economic and social system. It also compares the two traditions’ different positions regarding equality of opportunity and the distributive role of markets in establishing economic justice. I critically assess the classical liberal principle that economic agents deserve to be rewarded according to their marginal contribution to economic product. The chapter concludes with some reflections upon the essential role that dissimilar conceptions of persons and society play in grounding the different positions on economic justice that classical and high liberals advocate.

Keywords:   liberalism, capitalism, high liberal tradition, classical liberalism, just distribution, economic systems, equality of opportunity

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