Talents in the Service of Justice: Responding to Unequal Ownership beyond Compliance

Ville Päivänsalo, "Talents in the Service of Justice: Responding to Unequal Ownership beyond Compliance," De Ethica 3:1 (2016): 59-74. DOI: 10.3384/de-ethica.2001-8819.163159.

Over the past few decades, economic inequalities have continued to grow in most countries and the world is still lacking effective global tax schemes or corresponding structures of global distributive justice. Thus, for the world’s top-owners, simply complying with the existing rules hardly suffices as a virtue of justice. In the current article, G. A. Cohen’s nation-centered account of individual virtues in the service of distributive justice is elaborated further in a broader perspective. First, Cohen’s basic insights into the virtues of the talented rich are reconsidered under the conditions of highly unequal Western democracies in the global age as recently depicted by Thomas Piketty. Second, it is asked with reference to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, if the exceptional generosity of some superrich people can serve as a proper response to the assumed deficit of justice. Third, an ethic of generous compliance is outlined as a possible mediating approach in the discussion of the responsibilities of the talented rich in an age of high economic, health, and capability inequalities as well as public sector austerity.

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