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Friedrich A. von Hayek on Welfare State - Dictionary of Arguments

Gaus I 214
Welfare state/social minimum/Hayek/Moon: Property rights: As Waldron (1993(1): ch. I and passim) argues, the only system of property rights that all have a reason to endorse would be one that ensured that no one need be deprived of essential resources, and the obvious way of achieving that would be to make property holdings subject to taxation, so that the state could provide essential goods and services, or at least a minimum income, when necessary.*
Social minimum state/Moon: This line of argument supports what might be called a social minimum state, not necessarily an institutional welfare state. The core argument is that
some fundamental human values - the idea of a meaningful life, personal autonomy, or life itself -
can be realized (or at least guaranteed) only if there are government programmes providing enough income at least for subsistence.
Welfare state/social minmum/Hayek: F. A. Hayek, for example, is renowned as a critic of the welfare state, but he accepts the idea of a social minimum, arguing that citizens may feel that there is 'a clear moral duty of all to assist, within the organized community, those who cannot help themselves' and so the society could provide 'a uniform minimum income... outside the market' to those who are indigent (1976(2): 87).** >Fundamental rights/Political philosophy.

* See Lomasky (1987)(3) for a rights-based defence of a mmimal welfare state, which taxes people to provide for a minimum standard of living for all.
** Although generally critical of the welfare state, Hayek seems to allow for certain forms of public provision and compulsory insurance (1960(4):285-394).


1. Waldron, Jeremy (1993) Liberal Rights. Cambridge: Cambridge Umversity Press.
2. Hayek, Friedrich (1976). The Mirage of Social Justice. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
3. Lomasky, Loren (1987) Persons, Rights, and the Moral Community. New York: Oxford University Press.
4. Hayek, Friedrich (1960) The Constitution of Liberty. Chicago: Umversity of Chicago Press.

Moon, J. Donald 2004. „The Political Theory of the Welfare State“. In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Hayek I
Friedrich A. Hayek
The Road to Serfdom: Text and Documents--The Definitive Edition (The Collected Works of F. A. Hayek, Volume 2) Chicago 2007

Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004


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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2021-06-20
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