Basic Economic Liberties: John Rawls and Adam Smith Reconciled

Cowen, Nick (2021) Basic Economic Liberties: John Rawls and Adam Smith Reconciled. The Independent Review . ISSN 1086-1653

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Basic Economic Liberties
Peer-reviewed accepted version of paper. Pre-pagination and final editing.
MoralPowersEconomicLibertiesJune2020.pdf - Whole Document

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The moral status of economic liberty is a critical point of contention within liberal theory. Classical liberals, including Tomasi, suggest that economic activity is fundamental for exercising personal autonomy and its protection to be to the overall benefit of all persons. By contrast, egalitarian liberals, following Rawls, argue that economic activity is not a sufficiently significant site of moral development. Drawing on contemporary interpretations of Adam Smith, I argue that commercial practices cultivate attitudes of mutual trust and respect in a way that is unique and necessary for developing the moral powers. Although they need not be universally exercised, basic economic liberties must be available to all. While rejecting laissez-faire, this case suggests that well-ordered societies must protect a substantial degree of commercial activity as part of the basic structure.

Keywords:liberalism, markets, commerce, Rawls, Adam Smith, moral powers, economic liberty
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V540 Social Philosophy
L Social studies > L210 Political Theories
L Social studies > L150 Political Economics
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V520 Moral Philosophy
L Social studies > L213 Socialism
L Social studies > L211 Liberalism
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Social & Political Sciences
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ID Code:41123
Deposited On:07 Jul 2020 14:54

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