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Free Market Fairness$
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John Tomasi

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691144467

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691144467.001.0001

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Thinking the Unthinkable

Thinking the Unthinkable

(p.57) Chapter 3 Thinking the Unthinkable
Free Market Fairness

John Tomasi

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines the process of “thinking the unthinkable,” which for high liberals means considering the possibility that the basic moral commitments of late twentieth-century liberal philosophers, while undoubtedly high, were defectively narrow. The phrase “thinking the unthinkable” is associated with the New Labour movement in Britain during the 1990s; it refers to the party's reconceptualization of even the most basic planks of their platform. For Labour leaders, thinking the unthinkable was an exercise in practical political strategy. The chapter first considers economic growth in the United States and in western liberal democracies before discussing liberal arguments for economic exceptionalism in relation to populism and political philosophy. It then explains how a thick conception of economic liberty intersects with democratic legitimacy and concludes by reflecting on the possibility for a realization of liberal justice that is normatively fuller and more ambitious than that of high liberalism—this is the essence of market democracy as opposed to social democracy.

Keywords:   economic growth, economic exceptionalism, populism, political philosophy, economic liberty, democratic legitimacy, liberal justice, high liberalism, market democracy, social democracy

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