The FAZ, one of the most influential newspapers in Europe, reviewed my book Realizing Freedom and Detmar Doering’s very good Traktat über die Freiheit. The reviewer, Professor Michael Zöller, is Professor of Political Sociology at the University of Bayreuth. In the review, which is favorable to both books, he refers to my essay “Twenty Myths About Markets” (in Realizing Freedom) as a “Vademecum [Handbook] for dragon slayers.” He cites approvingly both my and Doering’s attempts to provide a coherent account of liberty that does not load it down with qualifiers; Doering notes that many contemporary formulations of freedom suggest that freedom of movement requires, for its proper enjoyment, not merely the absence of human hindrances to movement, but a Ferrari, and my essay “Freedom Properly Understood” in Realizing Freedom takes aim at such views, including Amartya Sen’s, which seeks to redefine freedom as “the expansion of the ‘capabilities’ of persons to lead the kind of lives they value – and have reason to value,” which I point out requires us to justify our choices to others, rather than simply having the right to make them. Zöller writes,
“In his other essays, Palmer bursts one intellectual balloon after another, be it the common opposition between the state as oriented to the common good vs. society as the expression of self-interest, or the theory of justice of John Rawls, the most influential attempt to expand the definition of freedom. Palmer picks to pieces the so-called Difference Principle, which Rawls used in putting both individual freedom and the equal distribution of opportunities and goods in one and the same social contract.”
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