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Abstract

This paper critically evaluates the argument put forth by the philosopher Ingrid Robeyns in her work entitled What, if Anything, is Wrong with Extreme Wealth. Robeyns holds the Chair Ethics of Institutions at Utrecht University, and her academic research focuses on issues pertaining to contemporary political philosophy and applied ethics. In her aforementioned publication, Robeyns defends the political theory called limitarianism, which holds that there should be an upper limit to the amount of income that an individual can hold. Limitarianism, like many other political philosophies, presents a view of how resources ought to be distributed in society based, in part, on certain ethical principles. Robeyns explicitly outlines two arguments in support of limitarianism as a political philosophy: (1) by eliminating excess wealth, limitarianism prevents the super-rich from undermining political equality and (2) by redistributing this excess wealth, there will be more resources available to address any urgent unmet needs or collective action problems in society. This paper carefully reviews and ultimately rejects Robeyns’ defense of limitarianism as a theory of political philosophy. This paper sets out to highlight both the flaws in the basic premises of limitarianism as a theory as well as the shortcomings of the specific arguments that Robeyns’ constructs in support of the theory itself.

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