Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Inequality. 1. The fact of rising wealth inequality Increasing both nationally and globally The wealthiest 1% of individuals has increased its share of.

Similar presentations

Presentation on theme: "Inequality. 1. The fact of rising wealth inequality Increasing both nationally and globally The wealthiest 1% of individuals has increased its share of."— Presentation transcript:

1 Inequality

2 1. The fact of rising wealth inequality Increasing both nationally and globally The wealthiest 1% of individuals has increased its share of national and global wealth Estimated to own 48.2% of global assets Poorest 50% own less than 1% of global assets In UK combined wealth of richest 100 people now equal to that of poorest 30% of households Five richest families own more wealth than poorest 20% of UK households

3 What does wealth (in the form of legal ownership of assets) presuppose? What are houses, shares etc. all forms of? Does it matter whether or not these assets have been gained by means of a morally justifiable process? If no, what would the implications be? If yes, what could morally justify acquisition and legal protection of something that was not originally one’s own?

4 Modern ‘liberal’ conception of the right to property: (1) Legal right to exclude others from the use or benefit of X without their consent (2) Right to enjoy any benefits deriving from possession of X (3) Right to consume, use or waste X as one pleases (4) Right to dispose of X as one pleases (e.g. through acts of exchange, gift-giving etc.)

5 2. Locke’s justification of property in Two Treatises of Government (1689) Law of Nature = self-preservation A binding law of God on which all human rights rest and from which all human duties are derived Although this law is the expression of God’s will, we know it through reason and thus independently of revelation Right to property is a natural right derived from the Law of Nature Since knowledge of this law can be gained even in the state of nature (that is, prior to the institution of state authority), right to property is a moral (not purely legal) right

6 Problem: Claims that (1) all human beings have a natural right to self-preservation and thus to food and drink and (2) God gave the earth to mankind in common imply that only humankind as a whole, not individuals, has a right to things provided by nature Original community of goods in state of nature

7 What, then, can justify the fact that some individuals have gained exclusive right to particular parts of the world and to particular objects? I shall endeavour to shew, how Men might come to have a property in several parts of that which God gave to Mankind in common, and that without any express Compact of all the Commoners. (TTG, 286)

8 The ‘labour-mixing’ argument P1 – As well as giving human beings the world to use, God also gave them reason, so that they could make the best possible use of the earth and what it provides with a view to their self- preservation and comfort P2– In order to make the best possible use - indeed any use - of what the earth provides, it is necessary for human beings to appropriate parts of the world and objects within it Acts of appropriation are possible only by excluding others from the use or benefit of something E.g., a piece of fruit can be gathered and eaten by only one person, only one person can cultivate the particular piece of land x at time t

9 P3 - Labour is a form of property Though the Earth, and all inferior Creatures be common to all Men, yet every Man has a Property in his own Person. This no Body has any Right to but himself. The Labour of his Body, and the Work of his Hands, we may say, are properly his. (TTG, 287-8) Self-ownership thesis - my relationship to my body, capacities, talents etc. is modelled on property rights P4 – In laboring upon something, I ‘mix’ what is already mine with something that is not originally mine but somehow becomes mine in the sense of an inseparable part of me

10 Whatsoever then he removes out of the State that Nature hath provided, and left it in, he hath mixed his Labour with, and joyned to it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his Property. It being by him removed from the common state Nature placed it in, hath by this labour something annexed to it, that excludes the common right of other Men (TTG, 288). C: Therefore, I have a natural right to objects with which I have ‘mixed’ my labour For this Labour being the unquestionable Property of the Labourer, no Man but he can have a right to what that is once joyned to. (TTG, 288)

11 ‘ Value-added’ argument (attempt to strengthen P2) Labour adds significant value to things provided by nature No one has a right to value added by another person’s labour (even socialists can agree with this claim – Marx on surplus value) Respecting natural right to property increases productivity and availability of goods, thus benefiting everyone [T]he provisions serving to the support of humane life, produced by one acre of inclosed and cultivated land, are (to speak much within compasse) ten times more, than those, which are yielded by an acre of Land, of an equal richnesse, lyeing wast in common. And therefore he, that incloses Land and has a greater plenty of conveniencys of life from ten acres, that he could have from an hundred left to Nature, may truly be said, to give ninety acres to Mankind. (TTG, 294)

12 Locke’s further justification of wealth inequality Two provisos – acts of appropriation subject to two limitations derived from the Law of Nature: (1) Appropriation only permitted in conditions where ‘there is enough, and as good left in common for others’ (TTG, 288) (2) One can appropriate only As much as any one can make use of to any advantage of life before it spoils; so much he may by his labour fix a Property in. Whatever is beyond this, is more than his share, and belongs to others. Nothing was made by God for Man to spoil or destroy’ (TTG, 290). (This does not entail that material inequality, however great, is in itself wrong)

13 Removal of proviso (2): The money argument P1: Money does not spoil and can be exchanged for useful but perishable goods P2: Introduction of money enables people to increase their possessions in a way that avoids violating proviso (2) People may sell products of their labour that they cannot themselves use before they perish and make use of these things in the sense of retaining their value in form of money C: Therefore, material inequality is morally just In consenting to use of money, humans being also consented to its consequences, including the ‘disproportionate and unequal Possession of the Earth’ (TTG, 302)

14 Does Locke also remove proviso (1) by arguing that property rights lead to better use of land and resources? Institution of private property improves the conditions of everyone, including those who lack property rights in the form of land and goods For he that leaves as much as another can make use of, does as good as take nothing at all. (TTG, 291) Does this amount to removing the limitation that ‘there is enough and as good left in common for others’? No one is in fact made worse off because everyone’s living standards are raised, even if considerable wealth inequality arises

15 3. Rousseau on inequality in the Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality among Men (1755) Seeks to explain how present state of inequality arose and whether it is justified Two types of inequality (1) Natural or physical - beyond our control - established by nature, differences in strength, health, intelligence etc. (2) Moral or political – artificial [D]epends on a sort of convention, and is established, or at least authorized by Men’s consent. (DI, 131) Sustained by beliefs concerning its legitimacy

16 No logical connection between (1) and (2) Type 1 inequalities do not by themselves, therefore, justify type 2 inequalities Fact that someone is physically stronger than I am does not entail that I have a moral obligation to obey this person Questioning of belief that social or political forms of inequality can be justified in terms of the idea that they are natural

17 Human beings act according to two basic principles: (1) Concern for own self-preservation and well-being – amour de soi (as in Locke) (2) Self-love - amour propre – relational since involves comparisons with others and depends on opinions of others: [T]he Savage lives within himself; sociable man, always outside himself, is capable only of living in the opinions of others and, so to speak, derives the sentiment of his own existence solely from their judgment. (DI, 187)

18 Origins of inequality Development of artificial needs/wants and certain ideas made possible by: (i) increasing socialization; (ii) human inventions; and (iii) increase in leisure Emergence of property rights presupposed invention of language - the distinction between ‘mine and yours’ - and other developments such as introduction of agriculture There was no reason for property rights in strict sense to exist in the state of nature (historical contingency of property rights) [A] man must rarely have tried to appropriate his neighbor’s [hut,DJ], not so much because it did not belong to him as because it was of no use to him, and he could not get hold of it without risking a very lively fight with the family that occupied it. (DI, 164)

19 Unlike Locke, Rousseau does not view the introduction of property rights as being of benefit to humankind or as in any way ‘natural’: The first man who, having enclosed a piece of ground, to whom it occurred to say this is mine, and found people sufficiently simple to believe him, was the true founder of civil society. How many crimes, wars, murders, how many miseries and horrors Mankind would have been spared by him who, pulling up the stakes or filling in the ditch, had cried out to his kind: Beware of listening to this imposter; You are lost if you forget that the fruits are everyone’s and the Earth no one’s. (DI, 161)

20 Stage 1- Age of agricultural and technological development (metallurgy) Iron tools facilitated development of agriculture From the cultivation of land, its division necessarily followed. (DI, 169) This origin is all the more natural as it is impossible to conceive the idea of nascent property in any other way than in terms of manual labour: for it is not clear what, more than his labor, man can put into things he has not made, in order to appropriate them. (DI, 169) Labour gives cultivator (moral) right to produce of the land he or she has cultivated and to the land itself (at least until the next harvest)

21 Stage 2 – Increase in inequality Natural inequalities combined with other factors meant that (1) Some people were able to work better than others (strength, skill) (2) Some people who are more ingenious than others were able to do less work while gaining more (intelligence) – invention of new tools, making others believe than are working for their own benefit while actually working for one’s own Thus natural inequalities become morally significant only with introduction of property

22 Stage 3 – Institution of ‘civil society’ by means of fraudulent social contract Moral inequality and its consequences led to state of war in which the rich had most to lose (i.e. their goods as well as their lives) Rich therefore proposed introduction of laws that protect personal freedom together with a sovereign power charged with enforcing these laws This arrangement benefits the rich and institutionalizes moral inequality Poor lose their natural freedom without gaining anything of real benefit in return

23 Why isn’t moral right to property based on labour simply being provided with legal form and state protection? (1) Such a moral right does not necessarily override rights and needs of others Moral rights to property are of a conditional nature – they depend on wider social context - and therefore have no absolute validity (2) Condition described by Rousseau is a condition of inequality in which people have gained possession of things by means other than their labour (e.g. inheritance) and to which they do not, therefore, have a moral right

24 Moral effects of inequality – amour propre Finally, consuming ambition, the ardent desire to raise one’s relative fortune less out of genuine need than in order to place oneself above others, instills in all men a black inclination to harm one another. (DI, 171) Desire for positional goods – goods whose value to oneself depends on others having less of them Our view of ourselves is determined by comparing ourselves with others and how others view us Thus arises a desire for goods – and a view of others who do not have these goods – that becomes entirely detached from questions of (a) genuine merit and (b) genuine human needs Does this help explain certain types of social behaviour, especially that of the super rich?

Download ppt "Inequality. 1. The fact of rising wealth inequality Increasing both nationally and globally The wealthiest 1% of individuals has increased its share of."

Similar presentations

Ads by Google