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Utilitarianism, liberalism and Libertarianism

The political philosophy of redistributing income:

Utilitarianism
Utilitarianism: the political philosophy according to which the government should chose policies to maximize the total utility of everyone in society.

Liberalism
Liberalism: the political philosophy according to which the government should chose policies deemed to be just, as evaluated by an impartial observer behind a veil of ignorance.

Libertarianism
Libertarianism: the political philosophy according to which the government should punish crimes and enforce voluntary agreements but not redistribute income

Please answer the following questions:

1. Which political philosophy would you support? Why?

2. Taxes are often used as a means of distributing income. What kind of tax system would you favor (regressive, flat, progressive)? Why?

3. Do you think government should have a role in redistributing income? If so, in what ways? If not, why not?

Solution Preview

1. I wouldn't support any one political philosophy to the exclusion of all the others. Utilitarianism is important because, if we are only thinking of income, it implies that the government's responsibility is to increase total wealth, regardless of who it goes to. However, if we define utilitarianism as maximizing the total utility of everyone in society using an economic definition of utility, such policy does not necessarily exclude liberalism. People have altruistic tendencies and they derive utility from such things as decreasing the amount of poverty, sharing income, etc. Some might say that such things can be done without forcing all of society to do it through taxation and redistribution, but if we think of a public good, we can argue that there might be a tendency to shirk from participating even if utility is derived from the existence of such ...

Solution Summary

With regards to Utilitarianism, liberalism and Libertarianism, it answers the following questions in discussion form.

1. Which political philosophy would you support? Why?

2. Taxes are often used as a means of distributing income. What kind of tax system would you favor (regressive, flat, progressive)? Why?

3. Do you think government should have a role in redistributing income? If so, in what ways? If not, why not?

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