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Republic of Equals


The title of this blog entry, Republic of Equals, is also the title of a new book on political philosophy.

The author, Alan Thomas, a philosophy professor at the University of York, and the head of the department there puts forth a theory of justice he calls "predistribution." The underlying idea is that a republic is valuable and sustainable only to the extent that the ownership of property and/or "access to capital," is widespread, that is, to the degree that there are institutional checks in place to prevent a drift toward oligarchy.

Further, it is Thomas' contention that this "stable management of capital dispersion ... require[s] relatively extensive involvement by the state."

The term "predistribution," which Thomas adopts from other thinkers, is a name for the idea that it is better to keep the horse in the stable than to try to chase down the horse after it has run away. Thomas' notion of justice, derived largely from a critical analysis of Rawlsianism, maintains that a good society prevents the oligarchy from developing. This means that heavy redistributive taxation, and other measures sometimes proposed to reduce an existing oligarchic inequality, is not favored.  

Thomas has his own blog and expounds upon these ideas there:

I'm not praising or condemning today, folks. But since you're here, you're open to reading blogs, so I'm passing this one along as another option.

I'll say something about a rather different theorist tomorrow, and I'll make an explicit comparison between the two of them on Saturday.


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