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Property-Owning Democracy: Rawls and Beyond

Martin O'Neill (Editor), Thad Williamson (Editor)
ISBN: 978-1-4443-3410-4
336 pages
April 2012, Wiley-Blackwell
Property-Owning Democracy: Rawls and Beyond (1444334107) cover image


Property-Owning Democracy: Rawls and Beyond features a collection of original essays that represent the first extended treatment of political philosopher John Rawls' idea of a property-owning democracy.
  • Offers new and essential insights into Rawls's idea of "property-owning democracy"
  • Addresses the proposed political and economic institutions and policies which Rawls's theory would require
  • Considers radical alternatives to existing forms of capitalism
  • Provides a major contribution to debates among progressive policymakers and activists about the programmatic direction progressive politics should take in the near future
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Table of Contents

Notes on Contributors vii

Acknowledgments xi

Foreword xiii
Joshua Cohen and Joel Rogers

Introduction 1
Martin O'Neill and Thad Williamson

Part One: Property-Owning Democracy: Theoretical Foundations 15

1 Justice or Legitimacy, Barricades or Public Reason? The Politics of Property-Owning Democracy 17
Simone Chambers

2 Property-Owning Democracy: A Short History 33
Ben Jackson

3 Public Justification and the Right to Private Property: Welfare Rights as Compensation for Exclusion 53
Corey Brettschneider

4 Free (and Fair) Markets without Capitalism: Political Values, Principles of Justice, and Property-Owning Democracy 75
Martin O'Neill

5 Property-Owning Democracy, Liberal Republicanism, and the Idea of an Egalitarian Ethos 101
Alan Thomas

6 Property-Owning Democracy and Republican Citizenship 129
Stuart White

Part Two: Interrogating Property-Owning Democracy: Work, Gender, Political Economy 147

7 Work, Ownership, and Productive Enfranchisement 149
Nien-he Hsieh

8 Care, Gender, and Property-Owning Democracy 163
Ingrid Robeyns

9 Nurturing the Sense of Justice: The Rawlsian Argument for Democratic Corporatism 180
Waheed Hussain

10 Property-Owning Democracy or Economic Democracy? 201
David Schweickart

Part Three: Toward a Practical Politics of Property-Owning Democracy: Program and Politics 223

11 Realizing Property-Owning Democracy: A 20-Year Strategy to Create an Egalitarian Distribution of Assets in the United States 225
Thad Williamson

12 The Empirical and Policy Linkage between Primary Goods, Human Capital, and Financial Capital: What Every Political Theorist Needs to Know 249
Sonia Sodha

13 The Pluralist Commonwealth and Property-Owning Democracy 266
Gar Alperovitz

14 Is Property-Owning Democracy a Politically Viable Aspiration? 287
Thad Williamson

Index 307

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Author Information

Martin O’Neill is Lecturer in Political Philosophy in the Department of Politics at the University of York. He has previously been Hallsworth Research Fellow in Political Economy at the University of Manchester, a Research Fellow in Philosophy and Politics at St John’s College, University of Cambridge, and a Hoover Fellow in Economic and Social Ethics at the Université catholique de Louvain. He is co-editor (with Shepley Orr) of a forthcoming book, Taxation and Political Philosophy.

Thad Williamson is Associate Professor of Leadership Studies and Philosophy, Politics, Economics and Law, University of Richmond. He is the author of Sprawl, Justice and Citizenship: The Civic Costs of the American Way of Life, co-author (with Gar Alperovitz and David Imbroscio) of Making a Place for Community: Local Democracy in a Global Era, and co-editor (with Douglas Hicks) of the upcoming Leadership and Global Justice.

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"In this very instructive, wide-ranging, and most welcome volume, Martin O'Neill and Thad Williamson have assembled fourteen thoughtful essays and a substantial introduction which together explore its meaning and history, and the prospects of its implementation. The book has a great deal to interest political philosophers and theorists, political scientists, political economists, and reflective political activists on the left."  (Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, 8 July 2013)


This splendid volume offers a fresh alternative to stale debates about the welfare state versus unfettered markets.  It invites us to think anew about the economic arrangements that make democracy possible.  This book reconnects political philosophy with political economy, and sets a new and promising agenda for political theory, and for democratic politics."

Michael J. Sandel, Harvard University

Transforming principles of distributive justice into practical institutional designs is never an easy task. What O'Neill and Williamson have achieved, in assembling this collection of outstanding papers, is to supply us with strong reasons to believe that property-owning democracy is that transformation, with respect to John Rawls' account of just principles.

Hillel Steiner, Universities of Manchester and Salford

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