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todd8 · 2016-06-03 · Original thread
A classic text on the philosophical underpinnings of (US) liberalism with regard to economic redistribution policies is A Theory of Justice by John Rawls, a renowned professor of philosophy at Harvard.

After reading Rawls, I'd suggest maybe reading Robert Nozick's libertarian leaning Anarchy, State, and Utopia. Nozick was another distinguished philosopher from Harvard writing about the same time as Rawls. Nozick comes to a completely different conclusion than Rawls.

Both books are good and completely accessible to an ordinary reader (i.e. philosophy degree not required). However, they are serious and not as entertaining as the Friedmans' Free to Choose. While the two philosophy books address the question of what should a fair society look like from a philosophical perspective, I feel they don't address the aspects of human nature that have proven troublesome in socialist economies as well as Free to Choose.

Finally another classic, The Fatal Conceit by F. A. Hayek considers the practicality of socialism from an economic position in a more focused way. Like the previously mentioned books, it is an easy read.

These books may not reflect cutting edge thought, having been written in the 70's and 80's, but they were a useful starting point for me when I started to think about these issues more deeply and they are considered seminal works that in my opinion shouldn't be skipped while studying the questions of political and economic theory.

A Conflict of Visions by Thomas Sowell further reflects on this question and makes some conclusions about why smart people end up disagreeing in such fundamental ways. I find Sowell's thinking and writing to be clear and well expressed.

Finally, an interesting book addresses the puzzling and related question of why does the academic community so easily accommodate views so antithetical to a scientific world view. I believe that this at the heart of the questions raised by the original NYT piece. The book is Higher Superstition by Gross and Levitt. While interesting this book is erudite and seems directed to narrower audience than those mentioned above, expecting a well-read reader.

[1] Rawls, A theory of justice.

[2] Nozick, Anarchy, state and utopia.

[3] Milton and Rose Friedman, Free to choose: a personal statement.

[4] Hayek and Bartley, The fatal conceit: the errors of socialism.

[5] Gross and Levitt, Higher superstition: the academic left and its quarrels with science.

hyperpape · 2015-11-13 · Original thread
Knock yourself out:

(Seriously, what kind of response are you expecting? There are so many assumptions built in to your question that you're basically asking for a summary of political philosophy).

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