In his new book, Free Market Fairness, John Tomasi offers a new synthesis of Rawlsian high liberalism and market-oriented libertarianism, which he calls “market democracy.” It treats capitalistic economic freedoms as crucial elements of liberty, but demands that institutions be designed so that their benefits are shared by the least fortunate citizens.
Other political theorists, notably Gerald Gaus and David Schmidtz, have also emphasized the value of entrepreneurial activity as a moral ideal, but Tomasi makes this his central focus. All three try to supplant Rawls with a more market-friendly, less welfare-statist vision. Tomasi’s important work also inadvertently reveals the limitations of that vision.Read it at Balkinization
Tomasi's Free Market Fairness
by Andrew Koppelman | John Paul Stevens Professor of Law and Professor of Political Science at Northwestern University
This links only to the beginning of the article by Professor Koppelman posted at Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews. I recommend and reading the whole thing if this is of interest. It's not much longer and contains a lot of good stuff. Or else just use this link.
Koppelman's review of Tomasi adresses many key issues that are constantly coming up here. Worthwhile.
Rawls's insensitivity to the moral virtues of markets, so well anatomized by Tomasi, entails little about his theory of justice, because his theory doesn't exclude market capitalism and so can easily incorporate it as an element. It is entirely compatible with the regulated capitalism that exists in all industrialized democracies. Libertarianism, on the other hand, demands radical change, of a kind that would empower the economically strong and crush the economically weak. Its vision of a just society is not liberalism at all, but rather resembles its ancient adversary feudalism, in which parties trade their allegiance for protection by the powerful. Rawlsianism is necessarily at war with this. It isn't possible to bring the likes of Ayn Rand into the liberal coalition. Tomasi's desire to find a middle ground between these views thus repeatedly brings him to incoherence.Something that has been asserted many times here.
If you don't read anything else of this article, consider this at least.
Liberalism doesn't necessarily entail much about either regulation or redistribution. The questions that determine liberalism's entailments are going to be resolved, not at the level of political philosophy, but at the level of empirical description: does an unregulated market create transaction costs, externalities, market failures, inequalities of wealth beyond those necessary to create incentives for growth, etc.? To the extent that you think the answer is no, then liberalism will entail a small state. To the extent that you think that the answer is yes, then liberalism will entail a big state.