Ready, Set, Refute! — I

Ready, Set, Refute! — I have just looked into the heart of the coming evil. Is it a terrorist plot? No! It's a philosophy book… about taxes! NYU's Thomas Nagel and Liam Murphy have teamed up to justify the inherently violent redistributive functions of the managerial welfare state in The Myth of Ownership: Taxes and Justice.
From the publisher's blurb:
Taking as a guiding principle the conventional nature of private property, Murphy and Nagel show how taxes can only be evaluated as part of the overall system of property rights that they help to create.
Does this imply that the system of property rights doesn't exist unless a tax funded state helps create it? Hmmm….
The authors have been doing the colloquium rounds. So you can read parts of the forthcoming book here. Right from the start, the authors go after libertarian conceptions of justice, which are indeed an impediment. It's heartening to know that Nagel, among the most eminent living moral philosophers, sees that he has to beat up on libertarianism before he can move forward. Indeed, it's heartening that the welfare statists feel the need to write book length moral defenses of taxation. At one point, academics took its goodness for granted.
But the fight is far from won! I expect it to be a very sophisticated and intelligent apology, well appreciated by a philosophically hungry left. So its probably a book well worth getting to know.

Author: Will Wilkinson

Vice President for Research at the Niskanen Center