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What is the ratio of wealth between the top 1% of Americans and the bottom 90%?
The top 1% of Americans possess over a third of the countryâ??s wealth, more than the combined
wealth of the bottom 90 percent of American families.
What might a utilitarian argument for redistribution of wealth say?
That the redistribution of wealth will maximize the happiness of those receiving the money. A
utilitarian would also say that the collective utility of the receivers would go up more than the
taxed wealthy people would go down.
Why might a utilitarian argue against redistribution of wealth?
A utilitarian might argue against redistribution of wealth when it comes to high tax rates,
especially on income. They are afraid that this will reduce the incentive to work and invest,
which in result will lead to a decline in productivity. They say that if a shrinking occurs in the
economy, it will leave less to redistribute, causing the level of utility to go down. This is to say
that utilitarians would have to ask themselves whether taxing would lead the wealthy people to
work less and so to earn less, and eventually reducing the amount of money available for
redistribution to the needy.
Why would a libertarian argue against redistribution of wealth?
A libertarian would argue against the redistribution of wealth because it is unjust. Libertarians
believe that it is unjust to violate the liberty of those wealthy people to do with their money
whatever they like. They also say that it violates a fundamental right even if it is for a good
What is the central claim of libertarianism?
Their central claim is that each of us has a fundamental right to libertyâ??the right to do
whatever we want with the things we own, provided we respect other peopleâ??s rights to
do the same.
What do libertarians believe is the role/purpose/right activity of government?
Libertarians believe that the role/purpose/ right activity of government should minimum. And
that it should only focuses on stopping harm like rape, murder, ..etc. They believe that
governments should grant more freedom to people, respecting them and letting them lead their
lives as they wish as long as they are respectful to otherâ??s freedom and are not hurting anyone.
What are the 3 types of policies that libertarians reject and WHY do they reject these?
The three types of policies libertarians reject are as following: no paternalism, no morals
legislation, and no redistribution of income or wealth. For no paternalism, libertarians
oppose laws to protect people from harming themselves. This is because libertarians
believe that such laws violate the right of the individual to decide what risks to assume.
They say that as long as there are no third parties to be harmed, and that as long as
individuals are responsible and able to accept the outcomes of their decisions, the
government has no right to interfere. For no moral legislation, they oppose using the
coercive force of law to promote notions of virtue or to express the moral convictions of
the majority. They say that even if the majority of the community disapproval or dislike
what the minority are doing, the minority should not be shunned or banned from living
their lives as they wishes. For the no redistribution of income or wealth, they refuse any
law that requires some people to help others like imposing taxation for redistribution of
wealth. They say that to help the needy is something that should be left up to the
individual to undertake, not mandated by the government. They view redistributive taxes
as a form of coercion and theft.
Why would a libertarian argue against Social Security?
A libertarian would argue against social security because, according to libertarians, it is
considered an illegitimate infringements on individual freedom.
Why would a libertarian argue against a minimum wage?
Libertarians would argue against a minimum wage because they believe that government has no
right to prevent employers from paying any wage that workers are willing to accept.
10. Why would a libertarian argue against occupational licensing?
This is because libertarians believe that the requirements for occupational licensing interfere with
freedom of choice. They say that as long as there is an agreements and willingness between 2 or
more individuals in relation to this matter, government has no right to impose occupational
11. Explain Robert Nozickâ??s position on income redistribution.
He is against income redistribution. He believes that taxing the rich to help the poor coerces
the rich. He also believes that it violates the rich right to do what they want with the
things they own. He rejects the idea that a just distribution consists of accertain patternâ??
such as equal income, or equal utility, or equal provision of basic needs.
12. For Nozick, what does distributive justice depend on? (we will encounter a different
definition of distributive justice in a different method)
He believes that distributive justice depends on two requirementsâ??justice in initial
holdings and justice in transfer.
13. Why can the determination of the just acquisition of initial holdings be difficult?
The determination of the just acquisition of initial holdings can be difficult because we donâ??t
know to what extent todayâ??s distribution of income and wealth reflects illegitimate
seizures of land or other assets through force, theft, or fraud generations ago? He believes
that if it can be shown that those who have landed on top are the beneficiaries of past
injustices , then, a case can be made for remedying the injustice through taxation,
reparations, or other means.
14. According to Nozick, what are two problems with patterened theories of distributive justice?
According to Nozick, the two problems with patterened theories of distributive justice are as
following: 1- liberty upsets patterns. This means that anyone who believes that economic
inequality is unjust will have to intervene in the free market, repeatedly and continuously,
to undo the effects of the choices people make. 2- intervening in this way not only
overturns the results of voluntary transactions; it also violates the individualâ??s rights by
taking his or her earnings. It forces him or her, in effect, to make a charitable contribution
against his or her will.
15. How do libertarians understand â??self-ownership?â?
Libertarians understand â??self-ownershipâ? as following:
â?? If I own myself, I must own my labor. (If someone else could order me to work, that
person would be my master, and I would be a slave.) But if I own my labor, I must be
entitled to the fruits of my labor. (If someone else were entitled to my earnings, that
person would own my labor and would therefore own me.) â??
16. Name and explain 5 objections to libertarianism?
1- Taxation is not as bad as forced labor: This is about if you are taxed, you can always choose
to work less and pay lower taxes; but if you are forced to labor, you have no such choice.
Libertarian reply by why should the state force you to make that choice?
2- The poor need the money more: The libertarians say that this excuse does not justify forcing
Jordan and Gates to give to charity. They say that stealing from the rich and giving to the
poor is still stealing, even if it is done by the state.
3- Michael Jordan doesnâ??t play alone. He therefore owes a debt to those who contribute to
4- Jordan is not really being taxed without his consent. They say that as a citizen of a
democracy, he has a voice in making the tax laws to which he is subject:
5- Jordan is lucky:Jordan is fortunate to possess the talent to excel at basketball, and
lucky to live in a society that prizes the ability to soar through the air and put a ball
through a hoop. Thus, no matter how hard he has worked to develop his skills, Jordan
cannot claim credit for his natural gifts, or for living at a time when basketball is popular
and richly rewarded. These things are not his doing. So it cannot be said that he is
morally entitled to keep all the money his talents reap. The community does him no
injustice by taxing his earnings for the public good.
17. What arguments would a libertarian use to support oneâ??s right to sell oneâ??s kidneys?
A libertarian would use the argument of â??Self-ownershipâ?. They believe that if you own your
body, you should be free to sell your body parts as you please.
18. What are the arguments against a right to sell oneâ??s kidneys?
The arguments against a right to sell oneâ??s kidneys is as following
1- The first argument is about whether people should be allowed to buy and sell kidneys for
purposes rather than saving lives or not. The argument is not about the purpose of selling kidneys
but the right to dispose of our property as we please.
2- This argument is about the moral case of organ sales and if it rests on the notion of selfownership or not. It is about how selling a second kidney would cause the death of the seller. It
rises a question about whether one should be induced to give up his life for money.
19. What are libertarian arguments in favor of assisted suicide?
â??Many who favor assisted suicide do not invoke property rights, but argue in the name of dignity
and compassion. They say that terminally ill patients who are suffering greatly should be able to
hasten their deaths, rather than linger in excruciating pain.â?
20. What are arguments against assisted suicide?
Some of the arguments against assisted suicide that it is sometimes unreasonable. Terminating
the life of ill is not part of this argument. What is part of this argument is â??if we own our lives
and have every single right to do with it whatever we pleaseâ? is it acceptable to seek death just
for the sake of ending our lives.
21. Summarize the foundational values of libertarianism.
The foundational values of libertarianism are the principle of self-ownership and the idea of
justice that follows from it.
1. What does Immanuel Kantâ??s account of duties and rights depend on?
It depends on the idea that we are rational beings, worthy of dignity and respect
2. Which of Sandelâ??s 3 categories does Kantâ??s methodology fall into?
According to Sandel, the three categories of moral responsibility are as following:
1- Natural duties: universal; don’t require consent
2- Voluntary obligations: particular; require consent
3- Obligations of solidarity: particular; don’t require consent
And from Kant’s moral reasoning we get our natural duties.
3. Why does Kant reject utilitarianism?
He argues, utilitarianism leaves rights vulnerable. According to him, there is also a deeper
problem: trying to derive moral principles from the desires we happen to have is the wrong way
to think about morality. As Sandel puts it â??just because something gives many people pleasure
doesnâ??t make it right. The mere fact that the majority, however big, favors a certain law, however
intensely, does not make the law just.â? Kant argues that morality cannot be based on merely
empirical considerations, such as the interests, wants, desires, and preferences people have at any
given time. He believes that these factors are variable and contingent so they could hardly serve
as the basis for universal moral principlesâ??such as universal human rights. Kantâ??s more
fundamental point is that basing moral principles on preferences and desiresâ??even the desire for
happinessâ??misunderstands what morality is about.
4. For Kant, what is the connection between our capacity for reason and our capacity for
The connection between our capacity for reason and our capacity for freedom according to Kant
is that our reason can be our â??sovereign mastersâ?. We all like pleasure and dislike pain but we
are not governed by them. Kant believes that when reason governs our will, we are not driven by
the desire to seek pleasure and avoid pain. As he puts it â??Our capacity for reason is bound up
with our capacity for freedom. Taken together, these capacities make us distinctive, and set us
apart from mere animal existence. They make us more than mere creatures of appetite.â?
5. What does Kant mean by â??freedom?â?
By freedom, Kant means that our behavior should not be biologically determined or socially
conditioned. As sandel puts it â??to act freely, according to Kant, is to act autonomously. And to
act autonomously is to act according to a law I give myselfâ??not according to the dictates of
nature or social convention.â?
6. What is the link between freedom as autonomy and Kantâ??s idea of morality?
According to Kant, the link between freedom as autonomy and Kantâ??s idea of morality is as
â??to act freely is not to choose the best means to a given end; it is to choose the end itself, for its
own sakeâ??a choice that human beings can make and most animals cannot.â?
7. For Kant, what does it mean to respect human dignity?
For Kant, respecting human dignity means treating persons as ends in themselves.
8. For Kant, what gives an action moral worth?
For Kant, the moral worth of an action consists not in the consequences that flow from it, but in
the intention from which the act is done. As it is explained in Sandelâ??s book, â??what matters is the
motive, and the motive must be of a certain kind. What matters is doing the right thing because
itâ??s right, not for some ulterior motive.â?
9. What does Kant mean when he argues that only the principled position is in line with the
motive of duty, the only motive that confers moral worth on an action?
According to Kant, for any action to be morally good, â??it is not enough that it should conform to
the moral lawâ??it must also be done for the sake of the moral law.â? And the motive that confers
moral worth on an action is the motive of duty. Kant means doing the right thing for the right
10. Would Kant decide that the spelling bee student did something that was morally worthy?
Why or why not?
I believed Kant would argue two sides of this situation. As Sandel did, if the boy told the truth
because he doesn’t want to feel guilty or is afraid of people finding this out, then his motive was
not morally worthy. However, if the kid did tell the truth because he believed that it is the right
way, the right action to conduct, then his action was morally worthy.
11. For Kant, what is the supreme principle of morality?
The contrast of three terms: Morality – duty vs. inclination, freedom – autonomy vs. heteronomy,
and categorical vs. hypothetical imperative. And that it is grounded in reason, not God as we
have an obligation to behave rationally.
12. What is the role/work of reason, according to utilitarians?
According to utilitarians, reason is merely instrumental. As Sande explains it â??the utilitarians
viewed human beings as capable of reason, but only instrumental reason. Reasonâ??s work, for the
utilitarians, is not to determine what ends are worth pursuing. Its job is to figure out how to
maximize utility by satisfying the desires we happen to have.â?
13. What is Kantâ??s understanding of reason?
He does not agree with the understanding of the utilitarians. Kant views reason as it is not just
the slave of the passions. As Sandel puts it â??if that were all reason amounted to, Kant says, weâ??d
be better off with instinct. Kantâ??s idea of reasonâ??of practical reason, the kind involved in
moralityâ??is not instrumental reason but â??pure practical reason, which legislates a priori,
regardless of all empirical ends.â?
14. What is a hypothetical imperative, according to Kant?
According to Kant, hypothetical imperatives use instrumental reason: If you want X, then do Y.
15. What is a categorical imperative, according to Kant? (Noteâ??please make sure that you donâ??t
just quote the book here, but that you really understand what the book is explaining.)
According to Kant, as hypothetical imperatives are always conditional, categorical imperatives
are unconditional on the other hand. Hypothetical imperatives are when the actions would be
good just because they represent or will lead to something else. However, categorical
imperatives are when the actions are represented as good on themselves. Categorical imperatives
focus on the actions instead of what outcomes they might bring, just for sake that they are good
16. Can you explain the first formulation of the categorical imperative in your own words?
â??Act only on that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a
Kant explains that we have to act only on the principles that we can universalized without
contradiction. When we make a promise, we should be aware that we are able to fulfill this
promise before conducting the promise.
17. Can you explain the second formulation of the categorical imperative in your own words?
â??Act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person
of any other, never simply as a means, but always at the same time as an end.â?
In This formula, Kant explains that we have to treat people as an end, meaning that we have to
treat them without using them as means or instruments. We have to respect who we are and who
they are as after all, we are all human beings who are worthy of value and respect.
18. For Kant, what does justice require in our treatment of other human beings?
Justice require us to treat other human beings respectively, as they are end in themselves.
19. How are acting autonomously and morally the same thing in Kantâ??s mind?
It is the same because when we act autonomously, according to a law we give ourselves, we do
something for its own sake, as an end in itself. We cease to be instruments of purposes given
outside us. this capacity is what gives human life its special dignity, creates a difference between
people and things.
20. Why isnâ??t Kantâ??s categorical imperative the same as the Golden Rule?
As the Golden Rule depends on contingent facts about how people would like to be treated, the
categorical imperative requires that we abstract from such contingencies and respect persons as
rational beings regardless of what they might want in a particular situation.
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