David Schmidtz

David Schmidtz
The University of Arizona | UA · Center for Philosophy of Freedom

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106
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1,589
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January 1997 - December 2009
January 1994 - present

Publications

Publications (106)
Article
There has always been a tension, in theory, between the public accountability and the professional efficiency of the agencies of the administrative state. How has that tension been handled? What would it be like for it to be well handled?
Article
Human beings are social animals, which means that we have to cooperate to survive. Human beings are also political animals, which means that before we can cooperate, we have to be able to negotiate the terms of cooperation. Humanity’s distinctive survival tool is not a matter of wings or gills or being capable of photosynthesis. Rather, our distinc...
Article
Our modern observation-based approaches to the study of the human condition were shaped by the Scottish Enlightenment. Political Economy emerged as a discipline of its own in the nineteenth century, then fragmented further around the dawn of the twentieth century. Today, we see Political Economy’s pieces being reassembled and reunited with their ph...
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This is the text of a eulogy delivered March 3, 2017 in Tucson Arizona.
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This essay introduces basic issues that make up the topic of freedom of thought, including newly emerging issues raised by the current proliferation of Internet search algorithms.
Book
Debating Education puts two leading scholars in conversation with each other on the subject of education—specifically, what role, if any, markets should play in policy reform. Each advances nuanced arguments and responds to the other, presenting contrasting views on education as a public good. One author argues on behalf of a market-driven approach...
Chapter
Whatever is good about market society at its observable, realistic best boils down to the bilateral right to say no. Whatever is good about market society boils down to how well it works as a way of institutionalizing an expectation that people will respect each other as self-owners. At the other end of the realistic spectrum, markets at their obse...
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THE PROBLEM OF SELF-OWNERSHIP - Volume 36 Issue 2 - Bas van der Vossen, David Schmidtz
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Moral philosophy as it emerged from the Scottish Enlightenment spawned the social sciences in general and the field of political economy in particular. The latter field itself went on to splinter into two. James Buchanan, however, walked us back from our tendency to over-specialize and recovered the field of political economy as it was done in its...
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This chapter examines the accuracy of the quote “behind every great fortune is an equally great crime,” attributed to Balzac. In our times great individual fortunes are generally generated via the instrument of the business firm. The question then becomes when are firm profits a crime? Firm profits are, in general, explained by one or more of three...
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There is a particular kind of ideal theory that does not work: namely, theorizing about ideally just worlds. Such theorizing fails to bear on what we have reason to regard as an ideal response here and now, and instead bears only on what would be ideal if we were to depart far enough from the human condition as it really is. An alternative kind of...
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Which social arrangements have a history of fostering progress and prosperity? One quick answer, falsely attributed to Adam Smith, holds that we are guided as if by an invisible hand to do what builds the wealth of nations. A more sober answer, closer to what Smith said and believed, is that if the right framework of rules—plus decent officiating—s...
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Over the past decade, political philosophers and political theorists have had a common purpose: to reflect on the merits of realism and idealism when theorizing about the human condition and the nature of justice. We have settled that no one is against being realistic or against being idealistic per se. The contributions to this volume represent a...
Chapter
In a classic Prisoner’s Dilemma, players choose independently whether to contribute toward a mutually desirable outcome. Cooperation comes at a cost, so that (for example) a dollar’s contribution yields a return of more than a dollar to the group but less than a dollar to the individual contributor. Thus contributing is optimal for the group and su...
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The neoclassical economic model predicts that price controls lead to deadweight losses. In experimental auction markets, actual deadweight loss is greater than what the neoclassical model predicts, because access on the buyer side under price controls is more random in practice than what the neoclassical model predicts. The randomness that accounts...
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"This essay considers (and endorses) three complementary conceptions of justice as virtue. To the two senses of justice just mentioned-justice as a virtue of the soul and of the polis-we add a third that bridges these two. Virtue can be a kind of outreach rather than a kind of internal harmony, because we are talking about essentially social beings...
Chapter
Today, the word “tragedy” is used to refer generically to anything really bad. The word has an older meaning, though, referring to literary works that depict a protagonist caught up in events inexorably leading to his or her doom. Some of that older meaning is implicit in the logic of what we now call the “tragedy of the commons.” The phrase was in...
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Now over 60 years old, the Sabi Sand Game Reserve is a cooperative “for‐profit” arrangement among a group of private landowners in South Africa that has succeeded in protecting wildlife and wildlife habitat while substantially increasing the economic value of the landowners' property. On a per acre basis, the Sabi Sand's wildlife populations are at...
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This article analyzes the philosophy of Robert Nozick. It describes how Nozick borrowed Rawls's foundation, accepting his premise about the separateness and inviolability of persons. It then discusses Nozick's views about the historical and patterned principles of justice, liberalism and self-ownership, rights, freedom, entitlement, the two kinds o...
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The examples in Anarchy, State, and Utopia (ASU) are among the most arresting ever constructed by a philosopher: the experience machine, Wilt Chamberlain, the distribution of mates, the distribution of grades, and pouring tomato juice in the ocean. Provocative though his examples have proven to be, they still strike me as somewhat underappreciated....
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Species egalitarianism is the view that all living things have equal moral standing. To have moral standing is, at a minimum, to command respect, to be more than a mere thing. Is there reason to believe that all living things have moral standing in even this most minimal sense? If so—that is, if all living things command respect—is there reason to...
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Working within a Lockean tradition, William Blackstone characterized property as the "sole and despotic dominion which one man claims and exercises over the external things of the world, in total exclusion of the right of any other individual in the universe." In practice, though, property rights in the Anglo-American tradition have always been hed...
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Prehistory of CommercePrehistory of TechnologyPrehistory of SlaveryFrom Prehistory to HistoryRome and ChristianityAcknowledgments
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Through a fusion of philosophical, social scientific, and historical methods, A Brief History of Liberty provides a comprehensive, philosophically-informed portrait of the elusive nature of one of our most cherished ideals. Offers a succinct yet thorough survey of personal freedom Explores the true meaning of liberty, drawing philosophical lessons...
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Must Liberty and Equality Come Apart?Freedom of ConscienceSelf-Ownership and Universal SuffrageSlaveryWomen's RightsThe Cold WarThurgood MarshallDiscussionAcknowledgments
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Freedom from PovertyFreedom from WarIngredients of Commercial ProgressSmith's Nineteenth-Century Legacy66Smith's Twentieth-Century LegacyWhen Formal Freedom Is EnoughDiscussion
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Early Religious FreedomThe Eve of RevolutionLuther and LiberalismJohn Knox and the Scottish EnlightenmentNatural LawToward Religious FreedomConclusion Discussion
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FeudalismMagna Carta28The Basic Idea: No One Is Above the LawThe Modern West Takes ShapeFrom Law to CommerceEquality Before the LawConclusion DiscussionAcknowledgments
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From Metaphysics to PsychologyShackled by Social PressureShackled by Self-DeceptionShackled by DiscontentSolutionsShackled by the Dearth of ShacklesDiscussionAcknowledgments
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Histories of LibertiesInstitutionsDiscussionAcknowledgments
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When we’re trying to articulate principles of justice that we have reason to take seriously in a world like ours, one way to start is with an understanding of what our world is like, and of which institutional frameworks promote our thriving in communities and which do not. If we start this way, we can sort out alleged principles of justice by aski...
Chapter
Act and character, principle, and rule. If we ask what makes an action right, one plausible answer is that the right action is the one that does as much good as possible. Roughly speaking, this is the theory known as consequentialism. The theory is most often associated with John Stuart Mill, and it is one of the simplest theories we have. An alter...
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It is at very least a prominent view among political philosophers that common sense is mistaken in its optimism about the possibility of our being deserving. One reason is ideological: many high-profile academic conceptions of distributive justice are incompatible with common-sense thinking about what we deserve. Another reason is that it is, after...
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What causes famine? President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe blames drought. Amartya Sen observes,. Blaming nature can, of course, be very consoling and comforting. It can be of great use especially to those in positions of power and responsibility. Comfortable inaction is, however, typically purchased at a very heavy price - a price that is paid by oth...
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Both utilitarian and deontological moral theories locate the source of our moral beliefs in the wrong sorts of considerations. One way this failure manifests itself, we argue, is in the ways these theories analyze the proper human relationship toward the non-human environment. Another, more notorious, manifestation of this failure is found in Derek...
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The Logic of the CommonsPrivate Property as a Solution to Commons ProblemsExample: A Successful PrivatizationAn Alternative Solution: Communal ManagementThe Open Access Commons: A Different Sort of ProblemCustomExtending the FrameworkOverpopulationConclusion
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Morality teaches us that, if we look on her only as good for something else, we never in that case have seen her at all. She says that she is an end to be desired for her own sake, and not as a means to something beyond. Degrade her, and she disappears. - F. H. Bradley Morality can be painfully demanding, so much so that we sometimes question the w...
Book
What is justice? Questions of justice are questions about what people are due. However, what that means in practice depends on the context in which the question is raised. Depending on context, the formal question of what people are due is answered by principles of desert, reciprocity, equality, or need. Justice, therefore, is a constellation of el...
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Samuel Scheffler says, “none of the most prominent contemporary versions of philosophical liberalism assigns a significant role to desert at the level of fundamental principle.” To the extent that this is true, the most prominent contemporary versions of philosophical liberalism are mistaken. In particular, there is an aspect of what we do to make...
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This essay compares Rawls's and Nozick's theories of justice. Nozick thinks patterned principles of justice are false, and offers a historical alternative. Along the way, Nozick accepts Rawls's claim that the natural distribution of talent is morally arbitrary, but denies that there is any short step from this premise to any conclusion that the...
Chapter
Two Kinds of Strategies Suppose I need to decide whether to go off to fight for a cause in which I deeply believe, or stay home with a family that needs me and that I deeply love. What should I do? My friends say I should determine the possible outcomes of the two proposed courses of action, assign probabilities and numerical utilities to each poss...
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Au-dela du scepticisme et du determinisme, l'A. developpe une theorie philosophique de la justice fondee sur la notion de merite. Mesurant le role de la chance et des dons naturels dans la competition pour l'excellence, l'A. montre que le merite consiste a agir en fonction des opportunites qui nous sont offertes.
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We are all equal, sort of. We are not equal in terms of our physical or mental capacities. Morally speaking, we are not all equally good. Evidently, if we are equal, it is not in virtue of our actual characteristics, but despite them. Our equality is of a political rather than metaphysical nature. We do not expect people to be the same, but we expe...
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Sometimes people act contrary to environmentalist values because they reject those values. This is one kind of conflict: conflict in values. There is another kind of conflict in which people act contrary to environmentalist values even though they embrace those values: because they cannot afford to act in accordance with them. Conflict in prioritie...
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Thomas Nagel believes that individuals inhabit both personal and impersonal standpoints. What he means, roughly, is that while we often see things in terms of how they affect our own goals, we are also capable of distancing ourselves from our own goals and seeing things in a more detached, impartial, and impersonal way. Nagel believes that from the...
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A Survey of Ecological Economics, KrishnanRajaram, HarrisJonathan M. and GoodwinNeva R. (eds.). Island Press, 1995, 384 + xxxix Pages. - Volume 15 Issue 1 - David Schmidtz
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Preface and AcknowledgmentsPt. IRational Choice1Ch. 1Why Be Rational?6Ch. 2Choosing Strategies28Ch. 3Choosing Ends58Ch. 4Comparing Ends80Ch. 5Reasons for Altruism98Pt. IIMoral Agency121Ch. 6Because It's Right126Ch. 7Social Structure and Moral Constraint155Ch. 8Moral Dualism186Ch. 9Objections and Replies213Pt. IIIReconciliation241Ch. 10Why Be Moral?...
Article
Species egalitarianism is the view that all species have equal moral standing. To have moral standing is, at a minimum, to command respect, to be something more than a mere thing. Is there any reason to believe that all species have moral standing in even this most minimal sense? If so — that is, if all species command respect — is there any reason...
Article
We have taken the “why be moral?” question so seriously for so long. It suggests that we lack faith in the rationality of morality. The relative infrequency with which we ask “why be prudent?” suggests that we have no corresponding lack of faith in the rationality of prudence. Indeed, we have so much faith in the rationality of prudence that to que...
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According to conservationism, scarce and precious resources should be conserved and used wisely. According to preservation ethics, we should not think of wilderness as merely a resource. Wilderness commands reverence in a way mere resources do not. Each philosophy, I argue, can fail by its own lights, because trying to put the principles of conserv...
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People have accidents. They get old. They eat too much. They have bad luck. And sooner or later, something will be fatal. It would be a better world if such things did not happen, but they do. There is no use arguing about it. What is worth arguing about is whether it makes for a better world when people have to pay for other people's misfortunes a...
Chapter
The problem of producing public goods by collective action takes the form of a prisoner’s dilemma when the marginal return per unit of contribution is less than one unit to the contributor but more than one unit to the group. In that case, the group is strictly better off if a given unit is contributed rather than withheld, but an individual is str...
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The typical method of acquiring a property right involves transfer from a previous owner. But sooner or later, that chain of transfers traces back to the beginning. That is why we have a philosophical problem. How does a thing legitimately become a piece of property for the first time ? In this essay, I follow the custom of distinguishing between m...
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This essay considers whether acts of altruism can be rational. Rational choice, according to the standard instrumentalist model, consists of maximizing one's utility, or more precisely, maximizing one's utility subject to a budget constraint. We seek the point of highest utility lying within our limited means. The term ‘utility’ could mean a number...
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The Theory of Market Failure explores how markets respond, both in theory and in practice, to public‐goods and externality problems. Most of the articles in this anthology find that markets often meet the demand for public goods in a variety of cases where existing theory would lead one to expect market failure. Moreover, upon reflection, existing...
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