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Philosophy Essay

1311 words - 6 pages

Rita Jackson

Professor Smythe

Philosophy 1000-01

April 4, 2010

The welfare state offers the solution that we can have the best of both worlds (Smythe). It attempts to provide a happy mean between capitalism and socialism by guaranteeing all citizens the resources needed for a decent life (Nathanson). Nathanson believes this is what constitutes the welfare state. First, it maximizes well-being by providing all with sufficient funds to minimize the suffering and deprivation that are caused by lack of resources (Nathanson). At the same time, by permitting inequalities it does not curtail economic incentives that motivate work and productivity (Nathanson). In addition, because it ...view middle of the document...

Taxes help people in need, but the taxed can still be far better off (Smythe). More work will lead to better rewards, even if all of it is not kept (Smythe). Some loss in taxes is compatible with sustaining incentives (Smythe). Poor people will have reason to work, if their basic needs are met, such as health (Smythe).

Capitalists and socialist have two different conceptions of liberty and freedom. In an ideal libertarian capitalist society, everything that people possess is acquired either directly from nature or through voluntary transfers between people (Nathanson). No one is forced to engage in any transfers, and no one is prevented from doing so (Nathanson). People are perfectly free to buy and sell goods or to five them away (Nathanson). What people have is a result of market processes, gifts, and acquisitions of things from nature (Nathanson). At the same time, some people have little or no goods (Nathanson). They do not succeed in the market and receive little or nothing as gifts, charity, or inheritance. They cannot eat properly, clothe themselves, or find suitable shelter (Nathanson). Through not directly prevented from doing what they want by any specific persons or group, they frequently find themselves unable to do what they want (Nathanson). Socialists claim that in such a society, many people are not free (Nathanson). Because they lack the resources that are necessary for many activities, they cannot do many things that are necessary for a decent life (Nathanson). According to the defenders of capitalism, however, these unfortunate people are free to do what they like, because no one is preventing them from doing so. According to capitalist criterion, everyone in this society is free because no one is preventing them from doing what they want (Nathanson). Socialists, however, take the opposite view, arguing that people without resources are not free because they lack the ability to act in accord with their needs and desires (Nathanson). Capitalists think in terms of negative freedom, the freedom from interference by other people, while socialists emphasize positive freedom, the actual ability to do things that we want to do (Nathanson). The contrast between the two can further by considering an ideal socialist society. In this society, resources are distributed equally according to need (Nathanson). All people are free in the sense that they are equally able to satisfy their needs (Nathanson). On the other hand, if activities like trade, gift giving, and investment would lead to inequalities, these activities would be forbidden or restricted (Nathanson). The government would prohibit these transactions or levy taxes that would alter the distribution that results from them (Nathanson). From the capitalist prospective, this situation is a nightmare, because they define freedom as freedom from interference rather than in terms of ability to act (Nathanson).

Based on the concept of desert specifically, personal desert and...

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