The Government’s Provision of Specific, In Kind Goods: A Defense
16 May 2018, 17:00-18:30
Chair: Angelo Caglioti (MWF-HEC)
Introduces: Richard Bellamy (Director Max Weber Programme)
The belief in the more or less universal superiority of the government’s provision of unrestricted cash over in kind goods can be usefully contrasted with an older tradition of thought.
According to that tradition, the provision of some goods is so fundamental to our equal standing as citizens that these goods should be treated just as we treat national defense –distributed in kind by the government more or less equally to all--even in the absence of market failure.
In Musgrave’s (1957) terminology, these are merit goods – goods that could be supplied by the market according to people’s consumer preferences, but that society has reason to distribute in a different way.
Ethical socialists such as R.H. Tawney, William Morris, G.D.H. Cole, and T.H. Marshall argued that there are goods and services that should be provided by the government universally, and often equally, to all citizens. They had in mind goods like a national health service, votes, a job guarantee, housing, protection against market vulnerability, public housing, and free public education, although their list can be extended to other goods, including child care, opportunity for political influence, broadband internet access, food stamps, and even free time.
My aim in this lecture is to render this “moral economy” tradition more attractive to contemporary egalitarians and to offer a new defense of in kind good provision.
About the speaker
Debra Satz is the Marta Sutton Weeks Professor of Ethics in Society at Stanford University. She earned a bachelor’s degree from City College of New York and a doctorate in philosophy from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her research focuses on the ethical limits of markets, the place of equality in a just society, theories of rational choice, ethics, economics and public policy, ethics and education, and issues of international justice.
In 2004, Satz received the Walter J. Gores Award, Stanford’s highest teaching honor. She was awarded the Roland Prize in 2010 for faculty volunteer service. She also cofounded the Hope House Scholars Program, which pairs volunteer faculty with undergraduates to teach liberal arts courses to residents of a drug and alcohol treatment facility for women.
Among her recent publications are Economic Analysis, Moral Philosophy and Public Policy, (co-authored with Daniel Hausman and Michael McPherson) Cambridge University Press in 2017,Why Some Things Should Not Be for Sale: The Moral Limits of Markets (Oxford University Press, 2010); “Equality and Sufficiency: A Problematic Dichotomy in Global Justice;” (2013) “Unequal Chances: Race, Class and Schooling;” (2012) and (co-ed.) Occupy the Future (MIT Press, 2012). Her work has been published in the Journal of Philosophy, Philosophy and Public Affairs, Ethics, The World Bank Economic Review and Ambio, among other journals. She is the Editor in Chief of the journal Philosophy and Public Affairs.
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