Peace, Justice, and Economic Reform

The 1997 Henry George Lecture


  • Nicolaus Tideman

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      Professor of Economics, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacks-burg, VA 24061. This is the written version of the Henry George Lecture that the author presented at St. John's University on March 18, 1997.

  • Nicolaus Tideman is a Professor of Economics at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, where he has taught since 1974. He is the author of many articles, including “Takings, Moral Evolution and Justice,”Columbia Law Review 88 (1988), 1714-1730, “Integrating Land-Value Taxation with the Internalization of Spatial Externalities,”Land Economics 66 (1990), 341-55 and “Integrating Rent and Demand Revelation in the Evaluation and Financing of Services,” pp. 133-150 in Hiroshi Ohta and Jacques-François Thisse (eds.), Does Economic Space Matter? London: Macmillan (1993). He also serves currently as the President of the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation.


Abstract. Is justice necessary for peace? There can be no justice while people have unresolved grievances, but peace is more than the absence of strife. It is harmony. Justice is the principles of equality and evenhandedness that command and prohibit the use of force in resolving conflicts. Justice is not necessary for peace, but it does facilitate it. Conservative, majoritarian, egalitarian and contractarian efforts to specify justice all fail to respect persons in crucial ways and cannot be expected to lead to peace. The justice that leads to peace is classical liberalism, with its insistence that each person own himself or herself, augmented by the principle of equal rights to the opportunities provided by nature, as advanced by Henry George.