Why limitarianism fails on its own premises: an egalitarian critique

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This article is a critical analysis of Ingrid Robeyns’ “economic limitarianism” (2017, 2019, 2022), the suggestion that there is a moral case against allowing people to be richer than they need to be in order to achieve full flourishing. Wealth above a certain “riches line” lacks value and should be capped at that level. Robeyns claims that limitarianism is justified as a partial theory of economic justice, since vast wealth is a threat to political equality and the revenue raised from taxing wealth can be used to meet urgent needs. She also claims that limitarianism is problem-driven philosophy and should be judged by its capacity to address problems in the world as it is. The argument in this article is that limitarianism fails on its own premises, both as partial theory of justice and as guide to decision-making. The arguments invoked in its favour as theory does not provide reasons to support it over other redistributive schemes. As guide to practical action, it runs counter to what empirical research reveals about how attitudes to economic inequality works in that people’s acceptance of inequality adjusts: the more unequal a society is, the more inequality is accepted as fair. By disregarding inequalities below the riches-line as well as the economic system that produces them, limitarianism has no tools for countering this adjustment and risks legitimating a politics of inequality. Anyone who shares Robeyns’ concerns about economic inequality have reason to be wary of limitarianism.
Sidor (från-till)777-791
Antal sidor15
TidskriftEthical Theory and Moral Practice
Tidigt onlinedatum2022 nov. 4
StatusPublished - 2022

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ)

  • Filosofi


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