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Socialism A Logical Introduction

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2024-02-05
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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Supplemental Materials

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Tackling perhaps the most contentious and socially urgent political movement of the last century, Scott R. Sehon lays bare the arguments for and against socialism, investigating their logical scaffolding and revealing exactly what is assumed in charged and often vital discussions of labor conditions and human well-being. Sehon provides a straightforward presentation and logical analysis of the arguments to make very clear which arguments work, and which do not.

While the book aims to be fair to the arguments from both sides, Sehon ultimately sides with socialism and maintains that the arguments indicate that we should move in a strongly democratic socialist direction. Nearly every contemporary counterclaim to socialism is addressed and interrogated, and even the more dubious arguments in favor of socialism are taken up. Naturally, the defender of capitalism will deny these premises and claim that capitalism better promotes human well-being; many capitalists also claim that socialism does violate individual rights, particularly property rights. The bulk of the book sorts through the data and arguments on both sides, considering arguments from philosophers such as G.A. Cohen, Ronald Dworkin, David Schweickart, John Tomasi, and Jonathan Wolff, as well as prominent economists such as Milton Friedman and F.A. Hayek. The reader of Socialism will find a clear introduction to one of the most crucial social movements of our time.

Author Biography

Scott Sehon is the Joseph E. Merrill Professor of Philosophy at Bowdoin College, where he has been teaching for over 30 years. He is the author of Free Will and Action Explanation: a Non-Causal, Compatibilist Account (Oxford University Press, 2016) and Teleological Realism: Mind, Agency, and Explanation (MIT Press, 2005), and has appeared in such journals as American Philosophical Quarterly and Philosophical Issues. He has also written for Jacobin, Mises Institute: Power & Market Blog, and Aeon.

Table of Contents


Part I. Introduction
1. Logic and Arguments
Argument Ad Hominem
What Is an Argument?
A Sample: Socialism and Starvation
A Look Ahead

2. Defining “Socialism”
Don't Argue about Words
It All Comes in Degrees
The Classical View
Some Rough Distinctions
Scandinavia and Democratic Socialism

3. Moral Philosophy Background and The Master Arguments
The Fundamental Question
A Moral Framework
Promoting Well-Being

Part II. Rights-Based Arguments
4. Does Socialism Violate Rights?
Socialism and Political Rights
Socialism and Economic Rights
Self-ownership and the Nonaggression Principle
Self-authorship and Economic Rights

5. Does Capitalism Violate Rights?
Extraction of Surplus Value: The Basic Idea
Initial attempts at an argument
Filling the gap in the argument: the exploitation principle
Final version of the argument
Evaluating premise (2) of Capitalism Exploits: Is the Distribution Undeserved?
Evaluating premise (1) of Capitalism Exploits: Is It Unfair?

Part III. Socialism and Human Well-being
6. The Progress Argument
Empirical Evidence and The Master Arguments
Humanity's Spectacular Progress
Capitalism as the Explanation?
Correlation Versus Causation and the Capitalist Argument
Testing the Capitalist Hypothesis: Data from 20th Century Communism
Science and Technology as the Real Explanation

7. Redistribution: Inequality and Envy
The Pettiness of Envy
Diminishing Marginal Utility Versus Incentives
The Empirical Evidence: Optimal Rates of Taxation
Inequality Is Toxic

8. Collective Control: The Democracy Argument
Empirical Correlations: Scandinavia Again
Community versus Competitiveness
Why Is Democracy Good? The All Affected Principle
Democracy and Traditional Governmental Functions
Democracy and Economic Decisions
Market Socialism
Markets and the Capitalist Reply to The Democracy Argument for Socialism

Part IV. Capitalism and Human Well-being
9. The Case for Markets
Hayek: The Better Information Argument
Friedman: The Better Incentives Argument

10. Market Failures I: Public Goods
The Argumentative Situation
Hayek and the Diffuse Benefit of Some Services

11. Market Failures II: Monopolies and Monopsonies
Where Shopping Is Impractical
Monopsony and Labor
“Government is not the solution”?

12. Market Failures III: Neighborhood Effects and Climate Change
Negative Externalities and Neighborhood Effects
Other Examples
The No-brainer? Future Generations and climate change

13. Conclusion
A Brief Annotated Selection of Suggested Readings

Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?

The New copy of this book will include any supplemental materials advertised. Please check the title of the book to determine if it should include any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.

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