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Preview — The Myth of Ownership by Liam Murphy
The Myth of Ownership: Taxes and Justice
In a capitalist economy, taxes are the most important instrument by which the political system puts into practice a conception of economic and distributive justice. Taxes arouse strong passions, fueled not only by conflicts of economic self-interest, but by conflicting ideas of fairness. Taking as a guiding principle the conventional nature of private property, Murphy and...more
Paperback, 228 pages
Published November 18th 2004 by Oxford University Press, USA
(first published 2002)
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Oct 17, 2007 Shaun rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those interested in Justice and Tax Theory.
A bit convoluted. Do not expect a major breakthrough with this one. However, it does have a very nice, thorough analysis of tax criteria and the forms of economic justice. Of special interest to me was the bits on endowment, redistribution, and welfare and its connection to Rawlsian issues in A Theory of Justice. Good introduction to justice and taxation, but I expected much more from Mr. Nagel.
I read most of this book for a class on Distributive Justice and the Law. It's interesting because Murphy and Nagel put forth a counterintuitive argument about the allocation of resources in society that is actually quite simple and makes a lot of sense. They argue that contemporary tax policy debates are misguided because they focus on the wrong question: How much of our money can the government take away in taxes? Murphy and Nagel suggest that the notion that our money is in fact our money is...more
The premise of this book is quite interesting. It proposes that taxation is among the duties reflected in the rights of private property and that pre-tax income, therefore, has no moral justification in itself. This claim is based largely on the fact that the production and maintenance of wealth depends largely on the stability and shared resources and infrastructure that taxation allow civilizations to maintain. From this position, the authors discuss funding the provision of public goods and a...more
The book is based on the premise that property rights have to be evaluated as, rather than an a priori foundation for a political system, an interconnected part of the system that creates and protects them. Property rights and taxation (which fuels the political system) should both be evaluated from a theory of justice standpoint. I found this argument refreshing and thought the book was important, as it highlights many of the contradictions within contemporary libertarian rhetoric. for instance...more
Extremely thought-provoking: a philosopher's take on the fundamental fairness of the tax system. Murphy and Nagel essentially argue that nobody has a right to pre-tax income, since that income was made possible only by a regulatory infrastructure that necessarily includes taxation.