A Life of One's Own
Available October 1998. Order toll-free from 1-800-767-1241, noon till 9:00 p.m., Eastern time, Monday through Friday.
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The Objectivist Center
Related Cato Institute Studies
he welfare state rests on the assumption that people have the right to
food, shelter, health care, retirement income, and other goods provided by
the government. David Kelley examines the historical origins of that
assumption, which, he shows, is deeply flawed. Welfare "rights," he
argues, are incompatible with freedom, justice, and true benevolence, and
they have damaged the genuine welfare of those who can least afford to
become dependent on the government.
"David Kelley provides us with a moral compass that points the way
out of the current welfare system. A Life of One's Own
reaffirms and sets on solid philosophical ground the traditional
American principles of personal responsibility and individual
liberty with human dignity for all. I found it both convincing
-- Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.)
"By explaining the tradition of liberty rights and the economic
system of capitalism that accompanies it, Kelley shows 'welfare'
rights to be both an ethical and an economic sham. Kelley argues
that individualism is at odds with neither morality nor
community. This is a clearly written work that appeals to
-- Douglas B. Rasmussen, Professor of Philosophy
St. John's University
"Anyone interested in the moral legitimacy of the welfare state
must deal with the arguments of this book."
-- Ellen Frankel Paul, Editor
Social Philosophy and Policy
"A gifted and remarkably clear writer, David Kelley examines the
tripartite intellectual pillars of so-called welfare rights: freedom,
compassion, and belonging. Skillfully combining philosophical argument
with empirical research, he shows how these three concepts, properly
understood, are undermined by any coercive welfare program--from AFDC to
Social Security to Medicare. Kelley presents the views of those who
advocate wefare rights with sensitivity and fairness, but he also shows
how everyone, including those in genuine need, is better off in a world
of voluntary giving. A brilliant mix of theory and practice, this is a
book you will share with your friends.
-- Randy E. Barnett, Austin B. Fletcher Professor
Boston University School of Law
"A Life of One's Own is a provocative, often devastating, critique of
the central assumptions of the welfare state. Kelley reminds us that our
country was founded on individual freedom and responsibility, not a
coercive obligation to provide for others. At a time when many people are
coming to the realization that our welfare system needs to be overhauled,
it is increasingly important to question the system's central premises.
Kelley accepts this challenge, exposing a system based on faulty
assumptions and lacking incentives for personal responsibility."
Judge Alex Kozinski, U.S. Ninth Circuit Court
David Kelley is founder and, since 1990, executive director of The
Objectivist Center, a leading center for research and education
in Objectivism, the philosophy originated by Ayn Rand, world famous
author of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, among
His many articles on social issues and public policy have appeared in Barron's, Harpers, The Sciences, Harvard Business Review, and elsewhere. He also lectures widely and is a frequent talk show guest. He was recently featured on John Stossel's ABC-TV special, "Greed."
A well-known philosopher, teacher, and writer, David Kelley earned his Ph.D. in philosophy from Princeton University in 1975. He has since taught philosophy, cognitive sciences and other courses at Vassar College and Brandeis University.
Dr. Kelley's books include The Evidence of the Senses, a treatise on perception; The Art of Reasoning, a widely used college logic textbook; Truth and Toleration, an essay on the principles of intellectual exchange; and Unrugged Individualism: The Selfish Basis of Benevolence.