Social Democracy and Economic Liberty

Steven Lukes

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Tomasi’s view of social democracy is shown to mischaracterize it as hostile to private economic liberties, which all real-world social democracies guarantee. The supposed Manichean choice between social and market democracy, seen as requiring contrasting accounts of fairness, results from combining Rawls-style idealization of regime types, the Hayekian presumption that social democracies are advancing along the road to serfdom, and tendentious appeal to scant and unconvincing historical evidence. The proposed constitutional protection of ‘thick,’ market-based economic liberties, as favoring both individual self-authorship and fair equality of opportunity, is defended by Tomasi against high-liberal and social democratic views as compatible with what Rawls’s social justice demands, but as their scope expands in the course of the book this fails to convince. Finally it is argued that the ever-expanding reach of the market across all social life, with feedback effects on the formation of preferences, renders questionable Tomasi’s claims that his account of market fairness is neutral with respect to ways of life and that it specifies conditions under which individuals can live lives that are truly their own.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)429-441
    Number of pages13
    JournalRes Publica
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - Dec 1 2015


    • Commodification
    • Economic freedom
    • Redistribution
    • Self-authorship
    • Social justice

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Philosophy
    • Law


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