The Myth of Ownership: Taxes and Justice

Paperback | November 3, 2004

byLiam Murphy, Thomas Nagel

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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 Nagel show how taxes can only be evaluated as part of the overall system of property rights that they help to create. Justice or injustice in taxation, they argue, can only mean justice or injustice in the systemof property rights and entitlements that result from a particular regime. Taking up ethical issues about individual liberty, interpersonal obligation, and both collective and personal responsibility, Murphy and Nagel force us to reconsider how our tax policy shapes our system of propertyrights.

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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 na...

Liam Murphy teaches law and philosophy at New York University. He is the author of Moral Demands in Nonideal Theory. Thomas Nagel teaches law and philosophy at New York University. He is the author of Moral Questions, Equality and Partiality, and The Last Word.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:240 pages, 5.39 × 7.99 × 0.71 inPublished:November 3, 2004Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195176561

ISBN - 13:9780195176568

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1. IntroductionChapter 2. Traditional Criteria of Tax Equity1. Political Morality in Tax Policy: Fairness2. Vertical Equity: The Distribution of Tax Burdens3. The Benefit Principle4. Ability to Pay: Endowment5. Ability to Pay: Equal Sacrifice6. Ability to Pay as an Egalitarian Idea7. The Problem of Everyday Libertarianism8. Horizontal EquityChapter 3. Economic Justice ni Political Theory1. Political Legitimacy2. Consequentialism and Deontology3. Public Goods4. Benefits for Individuals5. Efficiency and Utilitarianism6. Distributive Justice, Fairness, and Priority to the Worst Off7. Equality of Oppotunity8. Legitamite Means and Individual Responsibility9. Rewards and Punishments10. Liberty and Libertarianism11. The Moral Significance of the Market12. Personal Motives and Political Values: The Moral Division of Labor13. ConclusionChapter 4. Redistribution and Public Provision1. Efficiency and Judgement2. Paying for Public Goods3. Which Goods are Public?4. Redistribution5. Transfer or Provision?6. Public Duties7. ConclusionChapter 5. The Tax Base1. Efficiency and Justice2. Outcomes, not Burdens3. The Consumption Base and Fairness to Savers4. Fairness as Equal Liberty5. Desert and the Accumulation of Capital: The "Common Pool"6. Wealth and Welfare7. Wealth and Opportunity8. Endowment and the Value of Autonomy9. Exclusions and Credits10. TransitionsChapter 6. Progressivity1. Graduation, Progression, Incidence, and Outcomes2. Assessment of Outcomes3. Optimal Taxation4. Tax ReformChapter 7. Inheritance1. The "Death Tax"2. The Tax Base of the Donee3. No Deduction for Donors4. Details and Objections5. Equal Opportunity and Transfer Taxation6. ConclusionChapter 8. Tax Discrimination1. Justifying Differential Treatment2. An Example: The Marriage Penalty3. Incentive Effects and ArbitrarinessChapter 9. Conclusion: Politics1. Theory and Practice2. Justice and Self-Interest3. Plausible Policies4. Effective Moral IdeasNotesReferencesIndex

Editorial Reviews

"This magnificent contribution from the distinguished philosophers Liam Murphy and Thomas Nagel reminds us that fundamental issues of justice lie at the core of often mundane debates about taxation. The provocative thesis of The Myth of Ownership that the tax system helps create, rather thanconforms to, the overall system of property rights has profound policy implications. I highly recommend this engaging book and the rethinking of first principles it inspires to anyone interested in taxation and the role of government in society and the economy."--Joel Slemrod, Paul W. McCrackenCollegiate Professor of Business Economics and Public Policy, University of Michigan