What is capital and income, and how have they evolved over time? How unequally are they distributed? And what are the moral implications of this? To answer these questions, in this seminar, we will study Thomas Piketty’s ‘Capital in the 21st Century’ and will put it into the context of the modern financial system. We will consider Piketty’s evidence which shows that ownership of capital and income is increasingly concentrated and his theory explaining why this is happening. And we will consider prominent criticisms of Piketty’s arguments. We assess the moral implications of these developments in the light of current theories of distributive justice. In particular, we will discuss the normative underpinnings of Piketty’s critique of income and wealth inequality. Finally, we will study what policies could be considered to bring about a more just outcome. Throughout the seminar we will put an emphasis on students working with data first hand.
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Philosophy and Economics Programme, University of Bayreuth
Summer 2018, with Carsten Jung