In All Fairness
In All Fairness

In All Fairness

Equality, Liberty, and the Quest for Human Dignity

Edited by Chris J. Coyne, Edited by Michael C. Munger, Edited by Robert M. Whaples, Foreword by Richard A. Epstein


336 Pages, 6 x 9

Formats: Hardcover, ebook: EPUB

Hardcover, $26.95 (US $26.95) (CA $35.95)

Publication Date: October 2019

ISBN 9781598133318


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Growing concern about inequality has led to proposals to remake American society according to ill-conceived and coercive "egalitarian" values that are fundamentally unfair. This unique book reveals the modern romance with equality as a destructive flirtation. The elites who advocate such notions claim they champion the poor—but more often than not the nostrums of this managerial class undermine, rather than advance, mass prosperity and human well-being. The authors of In All Fairness challenge all of the prevailing egalitarian ideas, including the claim that the country is riven by inequality in the first place. After all, our economy thrives with a division of labor that allows individuals who are unequal in interests and talents to pursue their own unique goals. Looked at in this way, equality is far more widespread than overheated rhetoric might lead one to expect—as factual data show. But it is an equality of a particularly valuable type—one arrived at, not by top-down attempts to impose economic uniformity, but by our respecting inviolable rules of fair play and the dignity of each person, a dignity that requires everyone to respect the voluntary transactions of others. This approach holds equity, liberty, diversity, and prosperity together. Would we want it any other way in America and anywhere around the world? The authors draw on economics, philosophy, religion, law, political science, and history to provide answers to a perennial question that especially agitates the American public today: Can the coercive powers of the state be used to achieve a kind of arithmetic equality? The authors, each in their own way, make a strong case that they should not be used in this fashion. Love inequality or loathe it, In All Fairness is full of key insights about the connections among fairness, liberty, equality and the quest for human dignity. You won't think about wealth and poverty, equality and inequality, in the same way ever again.


"How, between the covers of a single volume, could one hope to illuminate the vast sea of moral, intellectual, and political failures that add up to modern egalitarianism? Only by combining the expertise and insights of historians, economists, political scientists, philosophers, legal scholars and more. With the book In All Fairness, the Independent Institute has done so brilliantly. Each author's contribution stands on its own and can be read with profit. Taken together, they complement each other to create a whole that far exceeds the sum of its parts." —Steven E. Landsburg, Professor of Economics, University of Rochester "Fairness counts among humankind's most fundamental social desiderata—demanded even by small children on the playing field. The difficulty is that it is easier to say what fairness is than to determine what is fair. The many faceted book In All Fairness, edited by Robert M. Whaples, Michael C. Munger, and Christopher J. Coyne, does justice to the complexity of the topic in its historical, philosophical, and economic dimensions. Anyone who has ever been inclined to say 'but that's just not fair'—which includes just about all of us—will find enlightenment and information in this thoughtfully compiled, instructive, and constructive book." —Nicholas Rescher, Distinguished University Professor of Philosophy, University of Pittsburgh; Founding Editor, American Philosophical Quarterly;author, Fairness: Theory and Practice of Distributive Justice "The authors of the timely book, In All Fairness: Equality, Liberty and the Quest for Human Dignity, edited by Robert M. Whaples, Michael C. Munger, and Christopher J. Coyne, dig creatively into the roots of inequality, drawing from philosophy, economics, and religion going way back in human history. This fascinating book shows that realizing proposed egalitarian wealth or income distributions requires a great deal of coercive power, unfairly affects 'The Forgotten Man,' and breeds unintended consequences. The book rightly stresses equality of opportunity achieved through economic freedom over equality of outcomes." —John B. Taylor, Mary and Robert Raymond Professor of Economics, Stanford University; George P. Shultz Senior Fellow in Economics, Hoover Institution "The beautiful book In All Fairness describes how rapidly growing efforts to impose equality of outcomes necessarily damages everyone's personal and economic freedom, creates harmful social and cultural divisions, and depresses economic growth that could give millions of people a better life. You will benefit enormously from reading this book, irrespective of where you stand on the debate about inequality." —Lee E. Ohanian, Professor of Economics and Director of the Ettinger Family Program in Macroeconomic Research, UCLA; Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution"In All Fairness is a masterful and insightful book devoted to exposing the shaky foundations and the likely moral, social, and political costs of the campaign for state-enforced equal outcomes for all. This campaign jettisons liberal concern for equal liberty and equality before the law for the elusive and yet destructive end of equal wellbeing or at least equal income. The goal of equality is elusive because of the deep difficulties of determining when equal wellbeing or income has been achieved and whose ox will be gored and which liberties must be denied to achieve it. The focus on equal outcomes shifts attention from growth-friendly policies that have raised many hundreds of millions up from poverty to redistributive policies that undermine growth. In many distinct but converging ways, the book convincingly argues that the crusade for equality undermines the core institutions of a free and prosperous society and drives us to a world of zero-sum, tribal conflicts." —Eric Mack, Professor of Philosophy and Faculty Member, Murphy Institute of Political Economy, Tulane University "In All Fairness is an insightful exploration of the tension between liberty and egal

Author Biography

Robert M. Whaples is co-editor and managing editor of The Independent Review and professor of economics at Wake Forest University.  Michael C. Munger is co-editor of The Independent Review and director of the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics Program and professor in the Departments of Political Science and Economics at Duke University.  Christopher J. Coyne is co-editor of the Independent Review and F. A. Harper Professor at George Mason University.

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