Fabian Wendt Publishes on Taxation and the Moral Authority of Conventions

Fabian Wendt, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and PPE Core Faculty member, published an article with the title “Taxation and the Moral Authority of Conventions.” The article appeared in the journal Social Philosophy and Policy.

Here is a link to the article and abstract: Lockeans regard taxation as a—perhaps sometimes permissible—infringement of moral property entitlements. This essay discusses whether, or in what form, this charge is defensible. In doing so, it will explore the truth and the limits of the conventionalist reply of Murphy and Nagel to Lockean challenges to taxation. It argues that there is a moral rationale for property conventions that is independent of the question whether and how one can acquire natural, pre-conventional property rights in the state of nature, that this rationale sets a moral standard for how good property conventions are and whether they are justifiable at all, and that once property conventions are in place, people’s moral property entitlements are at least partly determined by these conventions, sometimes even by unjustifiable ones that ought to be reformed. Because taxation can be a part of property conventions, taxation as such is not an infringement of moral property entitlements. But the essay will also argue that some taxation—excessive taxation—does infringe on moral property entitlements. This is because the moral rationale for property conventions sets some standards for what owners should be entitled to, and so excessive taxation will infringe upon moral entitlements that are partly not convention-based.

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