Liberalism’s Difficult Relationship with the Welfare State


  • Harald Borgebund Østfold University College, Norway



This paper makes two related points. First, as liberals have started to realize that the welfare state is unable to deliver on egalitarian theories of justice, they have increasingly tried to dissociate their theories from the welfare state. Second, dissociating from the welfare state type of thinking is difficult for some liberal egalitarian theories such as John Rawls's theory of justice as his theory shares some of the same underlying thinking as found in the welfare state. For example, Rawls's understanding of universal citizenship and the difference principle resembles some of the aspects of the welfare state on how social equality and citizenship are tied to productivity and society as a venture of mutual cooperation. Consequently, liberals are caught in a difficult relationship where they can only partially move beyond the welfare state. Because of this affinity liberals should move beyond a Rawlsian framework, as Rawls's theory is difficult to completely dissociate from the welfare state.

Author Biography

Harald Borgebund, Østfold University College, Norway

Harald Borgebund is Associate Professor in Political Science at Østfold University College and NLA University College (both in Norway). His research and teaching interests are liberal political theory, democratic education and democratic theory.




How to Cite

Borgebund, H. (2024). Liberalism’s Difficult Relationship with the Welfare State. Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics, 17(1), aa-aa.