Rank the Economic Principles

<aside> ❗ It is important that you complete this assignment only after having read the Nozick, Rawls, and Cohen readings. – Prof. HS


Consider the following economic principle that could govern the interactions of a group of individuals in a new colony.

  • Laissez Faire: Economic markets will operate without any government intervention, except to protect private property (including intellectual property through patenting and copyrighting legislation) and to place modest limits on the emergence of oligopolistic and monopolistic markets. In other words, there is no social safety net or nothing that we would call a welfare state (no unemployment insurance, healthcare, public schools or education, public hospitals, etc.).
  • Resource Equality: People will have roughly equal resources available to them (provided by the government) over the course of their full lives, to use as they please. They will not be able to deviate significantly from this amount of resources, though they will be allowed to improve their conditions by carefully using their allocated resources.
  • Sufficiency: Everyone will have a ‘basic needs’ safety net that is guaranteed by the government. Above that basic level, free markets will determine economic rewards, except as the democratically elected legislature chooses to constrain them.
  • Maximin: Inequalities of resources will be tolerated—some clients will have more than others owing to luck, talent, effort, physical health, random chance, etc. However, these inequalities will be limited or constrained, so that those who are least advantaged by their talents, gender, social background, random chance, etc., will not suffer from the inequalities or get left behind by society, at the cost of greater advantages to others. They will have a minimum amount, even if those more fortunate are able to have substantially more.
  • Equality of Happiness or Misery: Resources will be distributed so that everyone is more or less equally happy, or more or less equally miserable (under bad conditions). In other words, people will not be given the exact same quantity or type of resources, but instead will be given enough resources to make them as happy (or as minimally miserable) as everyone else (with overall happiness / misery being constrained by available resources).

For this homework assignment, I need you to rank these economic principles from the perspective of the following philosophers we have read in this unit on justice: Nozick, Rawls, and Cohen. The assignment should be structured as follows:

  • Go through the thinkers in the order above—namely, start with Nozick, then Rawls, then Cohen.
  • Indicate which economic principle (from the list below) would be most preferred by each thinker, and explain why they would choose this principle in 2-3 sentences. (NOTE: the most preferred principle should be obvious for each, if you’ve done the readings.)
  • Which economic principle would be in 2nd place for each thinker, and explain why they would choose this principle in 2-3 sentences. (NOTE: This won’t be as obvious, but you should be able to narrow it down and come up with a 2nd choice and be able to explain why.)
  • Which economic principle would likely be the least preferred by each thinker, and explain why they would choose this principle in 2-3 sentences. (NOTE: Again, this won’t be as obvious as the most preferred principle, but you should be able to narrow it down and come up with a choice that would go against a clear commitment of one of these thinkers.)

Each thinker should get up to 200 words of exegesis, and no more than 600 words for the entire assignment. You assignment should look something like this:

Nozick would most prefer [one of the economic principles above]. I say this because…..

Next best for Nozick would be [one of the economic principles above]. I say this because…..

Nozick would least prefer [one of the economic principles above]. I say this because…

Rawls would most prefer…..

NOTE: As mentioned above, the most preferred principle for each thinker should be fairly obvious. If you are struggling to choose it then that is a sign that you should re-do the reading and re-watch the videos for that thinker.

How to submit: Do not upload a file and do not write in the ‘Comments’ box. Click on ‘Create Submission’ and then write your assignment there or copy and paste it from wherever you prepared it.

NOTE: A point will be deducted for submitting it incorrectly. Look at these instructions carefully and do not post in the comments box:



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