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The Burman lectures 2019: Why worry about wealth?

Time Tuesday 26 November until Thursday 28 November, 2019 at 13:15 - 15:00
Place The Humanities Building , Lecture hall F and E (thursday)

The Department of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies invites you to the annual Burman lectures in philosophy. This years invited lecturer is Professor Ingrid Robeyns, Utrecht University. She will give three open lectures on the theme "Why worry about wealth".


Lecture 1: What is limitarianism?

Tuesday November 26, 13.15-15.00, Hörsal F, Humanities Building

Abstract : The first lecture introduces the general idea of limitarianism. In its most narrow and technical sense, limitarianism is a distributive rule related to questions of distributive justice, implying that there should be upper limits to what a person can acquire, hold or enjoy. It is a partial account of what the just pattern of justice would be; it can be combined with different views on what justice requires under the upper-threshold. In principle, limitarianism could be applied to a range of valuable ‘goods’ or the scarce resources that are instrumental to those goods, e.g. to greenhouse gas emissions. Limitarianism could also be seen as a property of social institutions, e.g. in the notions of a limit on what one can inherit, or on the idea of a maximum wage. Thirdly, limitarianism could also be seen as something vaguer and less graspable, namely as a general virtue that would apply to persons, social norms and generally shared moral views. This lecture introduces and motivates this general idea, and raises some of the philosophical questions that are relevant for the limitarian project, including: is limitarianism a political or merely a moral doctrine? And is limitarianism philosophically distinctive?

Lecture 2: Arguments for economic limitarianism

Wednesday November 27, 13.15-15.00, Hörsal F, Humanities Building

Abstract: This second lecture presents some of the reasons for economic limitarianism. A first reason relates to the project of effective altruists, and argues that given certain empirical conditions, there is a moral duty to spend the excess money that one holds on meeting the unmet urgent needs of others. A second argument investigates the risks that extreme wealth holds for liberal democracies. Thirdly, we investigate whether one could justify limitarianism on grounds of ecological duties. Finally, one could ask whether it would not be in the interests of the superrich themselves if there would be a limit on how much a person can have. 

Lecture 3. Objections to economic limitarianism

Thursday November 28, 13.15-15.00, Hörsal E, Humanities Building

Abstract: The third and final lecture takes serious some of the most important objections to economic limitarianism. Is economic limitarianism compatible with standard economic incentives or will it lead to a reduction of the efforts of the best-paid and ultimately to a shrinking of the total social product? And does it violate the pareto-principle? If so, would any of this be morally undesirable? Does limitarianism undermine equality of opportunity principles? And finally, could one not object that the superrich deserved their wealth and hence should be able to earn it and keep it, no matter whether this leads to an increase of inequality? 

Learn more abour the Burman Lectures

Learn more about Professor Ingrid Robeyns

Event type: Lecture
Pär Sundström
Read about Pär Sundström