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Equality, Rights and the Autonomous Self

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Equality, Rights and the Autonomous Self

Toward a Conservative Economics

9781843764502 Edward Elgar Publishing
Timothy P. Roth, A.B. Templeton Professor and Chairman, Department of Economics and Finance, University of Texas, El Paso, US
Publication Date: 2004 ISBN: 978 1 84376 450 2 Extent: 176 pp
Modern liberalism asserts the transcendental, autonomous self’s ‘natural rights’ against others’ moralistic and political preferences, and regards the economist’s utilitarian social welfare theory as instrumental to the achievement of ‘social justice’. Timothy Roth argues that the liberal enterprise ignores Kant’s ‘two points of view’, confuses Kantian autonomy with moral and political license, mistakes utilitarian impersonality for impartiality, and takes no account of the indeterminacy of social welfare theory’s fundamental theoretical constructs.

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Modern liberalism asserts the transcendental, autonomous self’s ‘natural rights’ against others’ moralistic and political preferences, and regards the economist’s utilitarian social welfare theory as instrumental to the achievement of ‘social justice’. Timothy Roth argues that the liberal enterprise ignores Kant’s ‘two points of view’, confuses Kantian autonomy with moral and political license, mistakes utilitarian impersonality for impartiality, and takes no account of the indeterminacy of social welfare theory’s fundamental theoretical constructs.

In contrast, the author shows that Kant’s ‘two points of view’ inform the conservative’s constitutive political position and animate the consequence-detached, explicitly normative work of the conservative, constitutional political economist. He shows that, unlike modern liberalism, conservatism is grounded in Kant’s ‘two points of view’, that utilitarian social welfare theory cannot be instrumental to the achievement of social justice, and that constitutional political economy is conservative economics.

Economists interested in political economy, methodological issues, social welfare theory, public choice theory, or the moral foundations of economics will find much of interest in this thought-provoking volume. Political scientists interested in the philosophical foundations of modern liberalism and conservatism will also want to add this title to their library.
Critical Acclaim
‘This is scholarship at its best: meticulous yet relevant; scientific yet normative; solid yet critical. Even those who will disagree – and there are going to be legions – will not want to miss this analysis.’
– Amitai Etzioni, author of The Moral Dimension: Towards a New Economics and University Professor, The George Washington University, US

‘A sophisticated and wide-ranging approach to socio-economic problems that helps us to understand why fashionable liberal attempts to secure “social justice” produce social breakdown instead.’
– Roger Scruton, Writer and Philosopher, formerly University Professor and Professor of Philosophy at Boston University, US
Contents
Contents: 1. The First-Person Self: The Liberal’s View 2. Derivative Political Positions 3. Equal Treatment, Natural Rights, and Social Justice 4. Liberalism’s Utilitarian Connection 5. The First-Person Self: The Conservative’s View 6. Derivative Political Positions 7. Toward a Conservative Economics 8. A Postscript on Law References Index

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