Month: April 2020

Delineating libertarian ownership rights: the anti-paralysis postulate

Libertarians are in near-unanimous agreement in their endorsement of ownership rights, both over one’s person and over private property. To say that a person owns a certain entity implies that the person has certain moral rights over the entity, including rights to control the use of the entity, rights to transfer these rights to others, immunities to the non-consensual loss of these rights, etc. In other words, ownership is simply a “bundle of particular rights” (see Vallentyne, Steiner, and Otsuka (2005, p. 204)). However, while it may be intuitive that persons have certain ownership rights (e.g. everyone owns their bodies), there is still an open question regarding how ownership rights should be delineated. In other words, there is still an open question as to which “bundle of rights” come with ownership. So we need principles for delineating the moral rights that stem from ownership. In other words, we need principles that govern how to delineate ownership rights. I will argue in this post that one such principle is what Eric Mack calls the “anti-paralysis” postulate.

Two arguments in defense of affirmative action

Thomas Nagel (1981) distinguishes between two forms of affirmative action. “Weak” affirmative action refers to “to special efforts to ensure equal opportunity for members of groups that had been subject to discrimination”. This can include public advertisement of positions to be filled, active recruitment of qualified applicants from the formerly excluded groups, and special training programs to help them meet the standards for admission or appointment. “Strong” affirmative action refers to “some degree of definite preference for members of these groups in determining access to positions from which they were formerly excluded.” The “weak” vs “strong” distinction has also been referred to as the “minimalist” vs “maximalist” distinction (Beauchamp 1998) or the “procedural” vs “preferential” distinction. As Nagel and Beauchamp note, most people agree that “weak” or “procedural” affirmative action is justified (and perhaps even morally obligatory). However, there is significant controversy regarding “strong” or “preferential” forms of affirmative action. In this post, I will defend “strong or “preferential” affirmative action.