Having Too Much
J. Knight and M. Schwartzberg (eds.) NOMOS LVI: Wealth. Yearbook of the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy, New York University Press, Forthcoming
42 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2016
Date Written: January 20, 2016
This paper defends the limitarian doctrine, which entails the view that it is morally objectionable to be rich. I examine how limitarianism can be spelled out and whether it can be convincingly defended. As is the case with egalitarianism and other distributive views, one can distinguish between intrinsic limitarianism and non-intrinsic limitarianism; and a variety of justifications can be explored. I defend non-intrinsic limitarianism based on two different arguments: the democratic argument and the argument from unmet urgent needs. An account of what ‘riches’ entails is also developed, since any plausible account of limitarianism requires a sufficiently clear account of the threshold. I also discuss whether limitarianism should be defended as a moral or rather as a political doctrine. Finally, I analyze and reject two important objections, claiming that limitarianism violates equality of opportunities and that limitarianism does not take incentive considerations into account. The paper concludes with an outline of a future research agenda on limitarianism.
Keywords: wealth, economic inequality, income inequality, wealth inequality, distributive justice
JEL Classification: D31
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation