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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractOne of the distinctive ideas of contemporary liberal political philosophy is that the separateness of persons is somehow normatively momentous. A proper respect for separateness is supposed to lead us not only to reject aggregative theories such as utilitarianism, but to embrace some particular positive theory about the sorts of obligations and claims we have amongst each other. Typically, philosophers have focused on the way in which the separateness of persons is important to matters of distribution. Given the intuitively unjust distributions often sanctioned by utilitarianism, such a focus makes sense. Much of the contribution of my dissertation, however, is to argue that separateness is relevant not just as a fact about persons as beneficiaries, but perhaps even more fundamentally, as agents. Chapter one explores the connection between respect for the separateness of persons and liberal theory, with reference to the cases of John Rawls and Robert Nozick. Chapter two defends the reasonableness of respect for separateness against the metaphysical critique of Derek Parfit. Chapters three and four spell out the main idea of respect for separateness as agents. Chapter five examines applies this analysis to free markets, and argues that while separateness provides some grounds for criticizing markets, it also provides some interesting, non-efficiency based grounds for praising them.
Degree ProgramGraduate College