The Deep Roots of American Neoliberalism : A Cultural, Economic, and Philosophical History book cover
1st Edition

The Deep Roots of American Neoliberalism
A Cultural, Economic, and Philosophical History

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ISBN 9781032257150
April 15, 2022 Forthcoming by Routledge
180 Pages

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Book Description

Focusing on why neoliberalism gained such a uniquely strong hold in the United States, philosopher Bruce N. Waller in this book traces the source back to the country’s origins and the entwined core values of the nation’s Founding Fathers. Their extreme commitment to private property rights (as evinced in a unanimous vote for the Constitution’s Fugitive Slave Clause), an aversion to widespread democracy, and a deep belief in the uniquely just nature of their new country together created the ideal conditions for neoliberalism’s growth and success.   

Waller also provides a clear analysis of the moral and psychological conditions so hospitable to neoliberalism, including the compatibility of a faith in the "invisible hand" of the free market with the widespread belief – which remains prevalent in the U.S. – that the world is just and people generally get what they deserve. Waller examines how the ideal of moral responsibility in the U.S. provides the core belief that holds in place the basic principles of American neoliberalism. The book ends by shedding light on the deleterious effects of neoliberalism, and shows that its replacement requires not only the amelioration of enormous inequity in wealth, but also the opportunity for all citizens to exercise autonomy, control, and critical thought in their lives and workplaces.  

Key Features

  • Traces neoliberal values deep into American history and culture
  • Uses empirical psychological research to explain the broad appeal of neoliberalism
  • Describes the strong interconnected neoliberal value system of belief in a just world, personal responsibility, and radical individualism, and their combined influence on American culture
  • Examines the influence of neoliberal values on the American criminal justice and educational systems

Table of Contents

1. Neoliberalism

2. The Psychology of Neoliberalism

3. American Neoliberalism

4. Rugged Individualism

5. Freedom

6. Moral Responsibility

7. Neoliberal Dignity

8. Neoliberal Justice

9. The Neoliberal Academy

10. Beyond Neoliberalism

11. Replacing Neoliberalism

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Bruce N. Waller recently retired as Professor of Philosophy at Youngstown State University. His recent books include Against Moral Responsibility (2011), The Stubborn System of Moral Responsibility (2015), The Injustice of Punishment (2018), and Free Will, Moral Responsibility, and the Desire to be a God (2020).  He is the co-editor (with Farah Focquaert and Elizabeth Shaw) of The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy and Science of Punishment (2021).