Front Page Titles (by Subject) Justice and Self-Actualization - Literature of Liberty, April/June 1978, vol. 1, No. 2
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Justice and Self-Actualization - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, April/June 1978, vol. 1, No. 2 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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Justice and Self-Actualization
“Individualism and Productive Justice.” Ethics 87 (1977): 113–125.
A “eudaimonistic” conception of the individual more solidly supports political individualism than does classical liberalism and its modern spokesman, Robert Nozick, in Anarchy, State, and Utopia.
The Greek ethical norm of eudaimonia denotes the condition of living in harmony with one's unique daimon or innate potentiality; as a moral ideal it stresses the irreplaceable, potential worth of each human person. The eudaimonistic view of man entails a larger role for government than does Nozick's “minimal state.” For eudaimonia, the logically prior problem consists of positively developing individuals (by state assistance if necessary); protecting individuals, the narrow role of classical liberalism's nightwatchman state, takes second place.
Several contrasts emerge from comparing eudaimonistic individualism with Nozick's Lockean individualism (along with its social and political consequences). For Nozick, individuality is a quantitative, unalterable, and static fait accompli, embodied in the “fact of our separate existences” or our brute numerical individuality. On the other hand, eudaimonistic individuality is qualitative and seeks the development of human potentiality. To become an individual in the eudaimonistic sense is a moral responsibility.
This last idea of responsibility logically precedes rights. Rights follow from responsibility, just as “ought” implies “can.” Rights are, thus, the entitlements to the necessary conditions of individuality. Such conditions of individuality come into play when we understand individuality as a development. A basic criticism against classical liberalism's fait accompli or static individuality is that it hides this developmental understanding of personal growth.
One necessary tenet of individuality requires that each person be responsible for providing for himself whatever he can. But a developmental conception of individuality acknowledges that the individual may not or cannot provide certain necessary conditions; it views self-sufficiency as an end-condition rather than a beginning-condition. The justification of the state is that it provides opportunities and conditions of individuation which individuals cannot provide for themselves.
Nozick's numerical individuality and “minimal state” concept invite a historical re-run of classical liberalism, with its subjectivism of values and its excesses of amoral egoism. To be viable today, political individualism needs to be inspired by a new and more profound conception of the individual that recognizes ethical and psychological development in persons. A fuller defense of such an alternative may be found in the author's recent book, Personal Destinies: A Philosophy of Ethical Individualism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976).
The last section's questioning of just allocations and entitlements naturally leads to various concepts about property. A major theme in this set of summaries is the validity of social welfare rights against an absolute concept of property.
Welfare rights seek to achieve the social common good by “balancing rights.” Individual rights—a person's right to property or liberty—are acknowledged but considered only “prima facie,” that is tentative, provisional, and not absolute. From the controversial viewpoint of welfare rights all claims to property and liberty must be set in the scales of the common good and weighed against other competing claims and rights. Against the collective emphasis of welfare rights, neo-Lockean theories of property develop Lockean rights to “life, liberty, and property” in a more individualist direction. The neo-Lockean tendency is to defend the absolute inviolability of each person's title to his or her own life, liberty, and legitimately acquired property.
Accordingly, this sequence opens with two opposed points of view on the validity of prima facie rights. Then follow several analyses of the validity of Lockean and neo-Lockean theories of property rights. Indian land claims and Kant's theory of property precede the concluding study of how “balancing rights” and social welfare crop up again in the venerable theory of the “just price.”