- The student is able to summarize and explain the main theories of distributive justice (welfarist, utilitarian, Rawlsian, luck egalitarian, sufficientarian, prioritarian, libertarian).
- The student is able to explain the role equality plays in these theories and how these theories can be applied to economic inequalities.
- The student is able to relate the concepts of ‘social (in)equality’ and ‘economic (in)equality’ and argue why both pose ethical problems.
- The student is able to develop an in-depth argumentation why a specific kind of real-life economic inequalities are distributively just or not.
Socio-economic inequality is and remains a crucial challenge at both the national and the global level. The gap between the poor and the rich is huge and still growing and poverty is still causing hardship for a substantial part of the population in both developed and developing countries. All this raises obvious issues with respect to distributive justice. Which socio-economic inequalities can be justified and on which basis? And what is the most relevant conception of equality in this respect: equality of opportunity, of results or of resources? Which policy proposals would best tackle the problems posed by inequality?
We will analyze contemporary theories of distributive justice and read philosophical and ethical texts about (in)equality (Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Thomas Scanlon, Derek Parfit, David Miller, ...), fairness perceptions (Dan Ariely) and policy proposals by both NGO’s (Oxfam) and economists (Joseph Stiglitz, Anthony Atkinson).