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Barry Lam

Associate Professor of Philosophy, Vassar College

Barry Lam is associate professor of philosophy at Vassar College, New York state, and is Humanities-Writ Large fellow at Duke University in North Carolina. He hosts and produces the philosophy podcasts Hi-Phi Nation, and lives in Poughkeepsie, NY.

Written by Barry Lam



Recent Comments

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Is it moral to respect the wishes of the dead, above the living?

Barry Lam

Thank you everybody for the thoughtful and thorough commentary. One of the common themes is the charge that the alternative to respecting the wishes of the dead is “socialism” and an infringement of the property rights of the living through the state-confiscation of wealth. I don’t think this is true. I think that free-market libertarians should have as much trouble with the practice as socialist egalitarians. In an ideal free market, the justification for even the most radical wealth inequality is supposed to be justified on the grounds that such wealth distribution is the result of the rational preferences and interests of the living members of the economy. A state infrastructure that c...

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Is taxation theft?

Barry Lam

I have always thought that the feeling that one has a moral right to pre-tax income is an artifact that we report wages a particular way. One feels a moral right to a number that one constantly gets to see on paper. If employers were obligated to account for the wealth that a particular worker brings in for a firm through their work, and for instance through increases in productivity, and put in on a monthly or annual check, that will show the total cut of the employee’s labor “taken” by owners just as clearly as we currently see the total cut of the employee’s labor “taken” by the government. In which case people would just as easily feel a moral right to the pre-employer-confiscation of...

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