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Ingrid Robeyns: Having Too Much

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Published on Feb 18, 2014

Ingrid Robeyns defends the limitarian doctrine, which entails that we all have a duty not to be rich. For many, limitarianism has an intuitive plausibility: given the world in which we live, wouldn't it be much better if the wealth of the rich were spent on alleviating suffering and disadvantages, and battling the various crises that the world is facing? Yet an intuition is only a starting point, and we have to investigate whether limitarianism can properly be spelled out and defended. This requires a number of different things. First, since limitarianism refers to the notion of 'riches', we need a proper conceptualisation of the idea of 'riches'. Interestingly, while there is a very large literature on the conceptualisation of 'poverty', there is surprisingly little work done on the conceptualisation of 'riches'. Developing a conceptualisation of riches, as well as to respond to possible objections to that conceptualisation, will therefore be our first task. Once we have a proper conceptualisation of 'riches', we can analyse whether limitarianism can be successfully defended.

Robeyns will show that at least two routes are available to us to do so -- one route based on the value of democracy, and the other on the value of human flourishing. Finally, she will analyse and reject two important objections to limitarianism, entailing that limitarianism is violating equality of opportunities, and that limitarianism does not adequately take incentive considerations into account.

The McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society is committed to bringing ethical reflection to bear on important social problems through research, teaching, and engagement. Visit the Center's website for more information: http://ethicsinsociety.stanford.edu

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