Unequivocal Justice: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Unequivocal Justice

1st Edition

By Christopher Freiman


168 pages

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Unequivocal Justice challenges the prevailing view within political philosophy that broadly free market regimes are inconsistent with the basic principles of liberal egalitarian justice. Freiman argues that the liberal egalitarian rejection of free market regimes rests on a crucial methodological mistake. Liberal egalitarians regularly assume an ideal "public interest" model of political behavior and a nonideal "private interest" model of behavior in the market and civil society. Freiman argues that this asymmetrical application of behavioral assumptions biases the analysis and undercuts ideal theoretical treatments of every major liberal egalitarian principle, including political liberty, economic sufficiency, fair opportunity, and social equality. This book reexamines the institutional implications of each of these principles in nonideal conditions, making novel philosophical use of political psychology and public choice economics along the way.


"In his engaging and provocative book, Christopher Freiman argues that Rawlsians often wrongly dismiss free market systems as vehicles for realizing justice … He poses an important methodological challenge for liberal political philosophies that move between ideal and nonideal theorizing."Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"Unequivocal Justice, with its delightful and engaging prose, is a devastating critique of the dominant arguments and methods in political philosophy. It shows that almost everything Rawls and other left-liberals have said about institutions over the past 50 years is not merely wrong, but incoherent. It should—if philosophers have any intellectual integrity—change the field forever." Jason Brennan, Georgetown University, USA

"Christopher Freiman’s Unequivocal Justice presents a powerful challenge to ideal political theory…Freiman’s book is stimulating, clear, and to the point. It presents a powerful and intuitive objection to liberal egalitarian ideal theories of justice."Samuel Director, The Journal of Value Inquiry

Table of Contents


1. Ideal Institutional Theory

2. Is The State Special?

3. Political Liberty

4. Economic Sufficiency

5. Fair Opportunity

6. Social Equality

7. Libertarian Legitimacy

8. Behavioral Symmetry, Again


About the Author

Christopher Freiman is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the College of William & Mary. His work has appeared in venues such as the Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Philosophical Studies, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, The Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy, Politics, Philosophy, and Economics, and The Oxford Handbook of Political Philosophy.

About the Series

Political Philosophy for the Real World

Political philosophers and applied ethicists often think in terms of ideal theory. In short, they ask what institutions, policies, or practices would work best if people had perfect motivations. While such work might help us imagine what utopia would look like, it offers little practical guidance.

Political Philosophy for the Real World offers a home for original scholarly research that confronts the very problems ideal theory imagines away, such as corruption, incentives, incompetence, rent-seeking, strategic free-riding and non-compliance, and political manipulation. The monographs and edited collections in this series integrate normative philosophy with the best empirical work in political science, economics, sociology, and psychology. By taking the incentives our institutions create and the motivations of individuals seriously, these books advocate for workable policy solutions that incorporate insights from the social sciences.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PHILOSOPHY / Political
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Ideologies / Libertarianism