Dr. Isabella Trifan, the Social Justice Postdoctoral Fellow for 2019-2020, recently published the paper “What Makes Free Riding Wrongful? The Shared Preference View of Fair Play” in The Journal of Political Philosophy.
Abstract: Free riding is clearly sometimes wrong, but other times it is not. Various versions of the Hart-Rawls Fair Play principle, the principle that is meant to distinguish between these cases, have yielded unsatisfactory results. They have rendered Fair Play either over-inclusive or under-inclusive. Arguably, this is due to the debate's having proceeded through piecemeal discussion of the intuitive merits of the conditions that make free riding unfair. This paper, by contrast, offers a systematic approach to Fair Play. It provides an account of the conditions that make free riding unfair that are derived from, and justified by reference to, a general understanding of why free riding is unfair when it is unfair. My account draws on Garrett Cullity's (1995, 2008) view of unfair free riding as unjustifiably making an exception of oneself. My aim is to offer a principled criterion for discerning when and why this is the case. I argue that free riding counts as unjustifiably making an exception of oneself when certain similarities obtain between free rider and benefits producer. And the two parties are similarly situated when we can ascribe to each the same qualified preference to free ride. Moreover, I show how this account of Fair Play, which I call the Shared Preference View, accommodates the Nozickian voluntarist objection, whilst grounding a wide range of Fair Play obligations, including political obligation.