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David Kelley on Egalitarianism and Welfare Rights

David Kelley on Egalitarianism and Welfare Rights

David Kelley Ph.D

July 23, 2010

Days after the Soviet Union collapsed, and shortly after the Iron Curtain fell, David Kelley delivered this lecture at the University of Aix-en-Provence, France. The event was a forum for classical liberals. The audience included some 350 students, more than 100 of whom were from Eastern Europe. (The speakers were advised to speak slowly to accommodate the simultaneous translation that was underway.) The lecture, entitled “Altruism and Social Justice,”  is about two types of social justice: egalitarian and welfare rights.

"The welfare state is subject to all the same problems that have made socialism unworkable," Kelley claims. "It creates perverse incentives among the people it tries to serve; it is run by a vast bureaucracy that is more interested in preserving its own power than in achieving results."

Kelley outlines the basic structure of a system of individualist ethics created by the American novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand. This system, Objectivism, attempts to provide a moral justification in addition to a political justification for the ethical implications of individualism. [Via Libertarianism.org]

This talk was excerpted in the Atlas Society’s 1994 IOS Journal. (See “ Altruism vs. Capitalism ”). Kelley created a new introduction to the piece for its republication as “ The Fourth Revolution .”


A Life of One's Own: Individual Rights and the Welfare State by David Kelley
The welfare state rests on the assumption that people have rights to food, shelter, health care, retirement income, and other goods provided by the government. In this widely acclaimed book, David Kelley examines the historical origins of that assumption, and the rationale used to support it today.

David Kelley


David Kelley

David Kelley is the founder of The Atlas Society. A professional philosopher, teacher, and best-selling author, he has been a leading proponent of Objectivism for more than 25 years.

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