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Is World Poverty a Moral Problem for the Wealthy?

Jan Narveson
The Journal of Ethics
Vol. 8, No. 4 (2004), pp. 397-408
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25115804
Page Count: 12
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Is World Poverty a Moral Problem for the Wealthy?
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Abstract

This article discusses the question of poverty and wealth in light of several theses put forward by Larry Temkin. The claim that there is a sort of cosmic injustice involved when great disparities of ability or of wealth are found. He is concerned especially about disparities that are undeserved. It is agreed that this is unfortunate, but not agreed that they are unjust in a sense that supports the imposition of rectification on anyone else. Nor is poverty typically "undeserved" in the only really relevant sense: the poor simply do not produce enough to earn them high incomes, and probably correct incomes they derive are indeed what such efforts are worth in the circumstances. That persons with very low incomes may merit our sympathy is accepted, but sympathy leads to charity, rather than to the involuntary exploitation of the better off. The essay concludes with further observations about the relevance of free markets, and points to the iniquities of the restrictions on commerce that are the most potent source of perpetuated poverty today.

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