Graduation Year

2019

Date of Submission

12-2018

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Philosophy and Public Affairs

Second Department

Philosophy

Reader 1

Professor Andrew Schroeder

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Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2019 Eric C D Myers

Abstract

In this paper, I have examined the political philosophy of a left-libertarian, Michael Otsuka from his book Libertarianism Without Inequality, and a libertarian socialist, Nicholas Vrousalis from his article Libertarian Socialism: A Better Reconciliation between Equality and Self-Ownership. The goal of this examination is partially to explore and present a variety of positions on distributive justice within libertarian theory as well as defend libertarian socialism as a plausible form of libertarianism. The main question motivating this defense is “Can libertarian socialism be truly libertarian in its conception of self-ownership and autonomy?”. In this examination of both left-libertarianism and libertarian socialism I compared both theories to the works of prominent right-libertarian philosophers, primarily John Locke and Robert Nozick, to determine if the theories meet the standards set by traditional libertarianism in promoting individual autonomy as well as to determine if these standards can be reconciled with substantial material equality, either in terms of opportunity or welfare.

The results of this examination showed that not only are left-libertarianism and libertarian socialism plausible theories of libertarianism, even exceeding potential for individual autonomy found in right-libertarian theory, but that they both successfully reconcile this autonomy with equality. In defending libertarian socialism, it was determined that it is a successful reconciliation of self-ownership and equality, though this comes at the expense of the potential for minor decreases in self-ownership among individuals when compared to Otsuka’s left-libertarianism. This was defended, however, as libertarian socialism seems more promising a theory for those who hold stronger commitments to equality as well as additional commitments, namely a commitment to democracy.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.

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