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Lecture Joseph Heath: Egalitarianism and status hierarchy *

There is considerable empirical evidence that people care a great deal about status inequality, relative to material inequality. Yet philosophical writings tend to focus more on material inequality. Some philosophers seem to think that status inequalities will disappear once material inequalities have been reduced. According to Joseph Heath, this is wishful thinking. He will lecture on the question what, if anything, can be done about harmful status inequality. (language: English)

Program information
Date Tuesday, August 28, 2018
Time 20:00-22:00
Location Black Box, Esplanade Building, Tilburg University
Admission Attendance is free of charge. Registration is mandatory: registration form
Speakers Lecture by Joseph Heath, University of Toronto
Panel discussion: Rutger Claassen (Utrecht University), Stefan Gosepath (Freie Universität Berlin), Lisa Herzog (Technical University Munich), Ruth Yeoman (Kellogg College, Oxford University), Joseph Heath.
Moderator: Bruno Verbeek (Leiden University)
Language English
Organization Department of Philosophy (Tilburg University) in samenwerking met Academic Forum.
Contact Luc Jeurissen
*Certificate This activity may count towards the Academic Forum Certificate

Egalitarianism and status hierarchy

When it comes to popular attitudes towards inequality, there is considerable evidence to suggest that people care a great deal about status inequality, relative to material inequality. And yet the amount that has been written, in the philosophical literature, about material inequality easily eclipses that which has been written about status inequality. Some egalitarians, of course, subscribe to the Marxian view that status inequalities are merely “superstructural,” and so will disappear once appropriate changes are made in the material “base” of society. Both everyday experience and social-scientific analysis suggest that this is wishful thinking, and that status hierarchy is ineliminable. The question, therefore, is how egalitarians should think about this, and in particular, how the other features of an egalitarian society should be structured, in order to accommodate the fact that, in the dimension of social status, there will be persistent inequality. There are five basic strategies that have been proposed in the literature, which professor Heath refers to as elimination, compensation, recognition, neutralization, and insulation. He will suggest that the first four approaches are unworkable, and that the insulation strategy is the only viable one.

Joseph Heath

Joseph Heath is professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto. He has published papers and books in political philosophy, business ethics, rational choice theory, action theory, and critical theory. Heath is the recipient of a number of awards, including the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Fellowship and the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

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When: 28 August 2018 20:00

End date: 28 August 2018 22:00