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postgraduate thesis: Capitalism and the good life : a critique of liberal state neutrality

TitleCapitalism and the good life : a critique of liberal state neutrality
Authors
Advisors
Advisor(s):Chan, JCW
Issue Date2013
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Chan, S. [陳淑瑩]. (2013). Capitalism and the good life : a critique of liberal state neutrality. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b5177354
AbstractCapitalism has been evaluated by liberals primarily for its distributive consequences. Liberal egalitarians argue for state responsibility in rectifying economic injustices. Yet capitalism is not only an institution of distribution. Rather, it creates ethical and cultural consequences that pervade every aspect of life. In order to function as a system, capitalism requires individuals to spend the greatest part of their lives actively participating in production and consumption. It requires individuals to be profit-seeking, materialistic, consumption-loving, and to define the good life in terms of career and economic success. In short, a particular conception of the good life is embedded in and promoted by capitalism. The rising phenomena of consumerism and the work-centered life that dominate developed societies are empirical testimonies to this inherent bias in the economic system. According to liberal state neutrality, however, the state must remain neutral on matters of the good life, and thus this state of affairs does not render state attention. This thesis argues that state neutrality is both impossible and undesirable by showing the inherent contradiction between ideals of individual freedom and societal pluralism at the core of liberalism, and the very specific conception of the good life that is embedded in and promoted by capitalism. First, I explicate the ethical aspect, or the conception of the good life inherent in capitalism; second, I show how it is promoted through manipulation and incentives-sanctions mechanisms that restrict individual choice; third, I examine the neutralist distinction between justification and consequence and argue that it is impossible for the state to claim neutrality under capitalism, and that it is at least negatively responsible for the ethical impact of capitalism. Lastly, I conclude that there needs to be some form of perfectionist state that takes up the task of evaluating dominating conceptions of the good in terms of their contribution to the good life.
DegreeMaster of Philosophy
SubjectCapitalism
Neutrality
State, The
Dept/ProgramPolitics and Public Administration
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/196495

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.advisorChan, JCW-
dc.contributor.authorChan, Shuk-ying-
dc.contributor.author陳淑瑩-
dc.date.accessioned2014-04-11T23:14:31Z-
dc.date.available2014-04-11T23:14:31Z-
dc.date.issued2013-
dc.identifier.citationChan, S. [陳淑瑩]. (2013). Capitalism and the good life : a critique of liberal state neutrality. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b5177354-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/196495-
dc.description.abstractCapitalism has been evaluated by liberals primarily for its distributive consequences. Liberal egalitarians argue for state responsibility in rectifying economic injustices. Yet capitalism is not only an institution of distribution. Rather, it creates ethical and cultural consequences that pervade every aspect of life. In order to function as a system, capitalism requires individuals to spend the greatest part of their lives actively participating in production and consumption. It requires individuals to be profit-seeking, materialistic, consumption-loving, and to define the good life in terms of career and economic success. In short, a particular conception of the good life is embedded in and promoted by capitalism. The rising phenomena of consumerism and the work-centered life that dominate developed societies are empirical testimonies to this inherent bias in the economic system. According to liberal state neutrality, however, the state must remain neutral on matters of the good life, and thus this state of affairs does not render state attention. This thesis argues that state neutrality is both impossible and undesirable by showing the inherent contradiction between ideals of individual freedom and societal pluralism at the core of liberalism, and the very specific conception of the good life that is embedded in and promoted by capitalism. First, I explicate the ethical aspect, or the conception of the good life inherent in capitalism; second, I show how it is promoted through manipulation and incentives-sanctions mechanisms that restrict individual choice; third, I examine the neutralist distinction between justification and consequence and argue that it is impossible for the state to claim neutrality under capitalism, and that it is at least negatively responsible for the ethical impact of capitalism. Lastly, I conclude that there needs to be some form of perfectionist state that takes up the task of evaluating dominating conceptions of the good in terms of their contribution to the good life.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsCreative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.subject.lcshCapitalism-
dc.subject.lcshNeutrality-
dc.subject.lcshState, The-
dc.titleCapitalism and the good life : a critique of liberal state neutrality-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.identifier.hkulb5177354-
dc.description.thesisnameMaster of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelMaster-
dc.description.thesisdisciplinePolitics and Public Administration-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-
dc.identifier.doi10.5353/th_b5177354-

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