- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Cambridge University Press (26 Oct. 1995)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0521471745
- ISBN-13: 978-0521471749
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.1 x 22.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
8,419,253 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #12060 in Books > History > Political History > Marxism & Communism
- #28881 in Books > Society, Politics & Philosophy > Government & Politics > Civil Liberties & Political Activism
- #36891 in Books > Society, Politics & Philosophy > Government & Politics > Political Science & Ideology > Political Science
- See Complete Table of Contents
Self-Ownership, Freedom, and Equality (Studies in Marxism and Social Theory) Hardcover – 26 Oct 1995
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' … Cohen brings formidable analytical and forensic skills, and the book is an outstanding example of the intellectual gains to be won by clear and rigorous thinking about questions that are usually blanketed by idealogical fog.' David Miller, London Review of Books
' … his book stands out among the many studies of electorial history …'. Anarchist Studies
Inside This Book(Learn More)
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Let us now suppose that I have sold the product of my own labour for money, and have used the money to hire a labourer, i.e., I have bought somebody else's labour-power. Read the first page
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Top Customer Reviews
Well worth reading for anyone looking for holes in Nozick's arguments, but I think you have to start with 'Anarchy...' before you read this. Also possibly influential on the 'left-libertarians' such as Michael Otsuka who do take a different view of initial resources.
But the next chapter turns away from criticising the left to criticising libertarian arguments. Cohen argues that libertarians are wrong to argue that taxation is slavery, or that arguments used to support redistributive taxation undermines self-ownership. He also argues that Nozick's appeal to Kantianism can't support the thesis of self-ownership, and neither can pleas for personal autonomy. He notes that only one argument from Nozick can go through, and that is that taxation undermines self-ownership, as explained above. But, Cohen says, Nozick can't really support that position, since he favours courts and police in his minimal state.
And that is one of the benefits of Cohen to libertarians - many of such counter arguments are very weak: Nozick did support a minimal state providing courts and police and national defense.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
He criticizes the claim that voluntary transaction are just and preserve justice. He says that ignorance, unforeseeable consequences and accidents show that voluntary transactions can lead from just to unjust distributions. But the former criticism is unworkable since ignorance and unforeseeable consequences are inherent to all human action and any political scheme. Accidents are also inherent to human life and not the subject of justice: justice simply concerns relations between men. He also claims that market transactions are not truly voluntary because of constraints imposed by the market i.e. wages for labor of your kind are set beyond your control, prices of goods, opportunities for work or entrepenuership, etc.. But voluntary, in this context, simply means the absence of coercion. It does not mean the absence of all constraints. The latter is in fact impossible: constraints are set because we live in a world that works in a certain way, whose entities have a certain nature and behave accordingly.
He also has many criticisms of the Lockean/Nozickean rule of original acquisition. He claims that it assumes that things in their natural state are unowned and that the proviso (doesn't worsen the situation of others compared to the objects remaining in its natural state) should take into account alternative uses of the object besides for capitalist appropriation and its remaining in its natural state.
Chapter 10 criticizes the idea of self ownership claiming that it is appealing because of its association with autonomy and true freedom but that it in fact is an obstacle to their realization.
His conclusion, "Future of a Disillusion", reflects on the demise of Socialism in Russia and the future of Socialism. He positively presents Market Socialism as a worthy goal in the short term.
The book is clearly written and I enjoyed reading it as an opportunity to see what a well respected critic had to say about Libertarianism. Ultimately, I wasn't persuaded but it was worth reading.
Greg Feirman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The phrase "self-ownership" appears on 217 different pages in Cohen's critique of Nozick.
The phrase "self-ownership" appears exactly once in Nozick's book, on p. 172.
Every political philosopher should read this book, but they owe it to themselves to take Nozick seriously. Try as he might, Cohen fails to do so. If you're interested in a basically knock-down response to Cohen, check out Eric Mack's "Self-Ownership, Marxism, and Egalitarianism", parts I and II, in the journal Politics, Philosophy, and Economics.
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