The aim of the book is two-fold. First of all it is to provide a fair, complete and analytical account of the Neo-liberal conception of the role and function of the state in modern society. The second aim is to provide a critical assessment of some of the central elements of this conception. The book will look at the emphasis of Neo-liberals on procedural and rule governed approaches to the role of the state rather than outcome or end state views of the role of government and to consider how this conception of politics relates to issues such as the rule of law, freedom, justice, rights, the relationship to the market economy, to civil society and to look at the role of government in relation to the provision of welfare and public sector services more generally. It builds up the Neo-liberal case in respect of these aspects of modern society by drawing upon the works of central Neo-liberal thinkers such as Hayek, Mises, Menger, as well as thinkers such as Oakeshott, Nozick and Rotbard who are not directly Neo-liberals but whose works have been important for the development of central Neo-liberal themes.
The second part of the book provides what might be regarded as an immanent critique of the Neo-liberal case built up in the first part of the study. It takes Neo-liberal ideas very seriously and shows how incoherences arise within and between those ideas such that a plausible form of Neo-liberalism as opposed to Libertarianism on the one hand and Social Democracy on the other is very difficult to state. The theme of this book is very germane given the considerable debate which is now taking place in the context of the world financial crisis about the appropriate role for the state.
Publisher: Oxford University Press