Limitarianism: academic essays

by Ingrid Robeyns on August 28, 2023

Over the last year, I’ve been working on a trade book on limitarianism (USA, UK, NL), on an edited volume on pluralism in political philosophy by bringing various (including ‘non-western’) perspectives together around questions of economic and ecological inequalities (forthcoming with OUP but not quite there yet), and on an edited academic volume with political philosophy papers on limitarianism.

Perhaps not surprisingly, I strongly advice anyone not to follow that example: one book to work on is already more than enough to concentrate on. The circumstances that created this situation in which I found myself editing two books and writing a third one are probably rather rare – trying to deliver outcomes promised in a grant application against the background of a pandemic, combined with some significant professional disruptions beyond my control etc. But while I felt like a juggler for some time, the good news is that the first and the third are now done (though the trade book is not out in English before February 1st), and I’m happy to share with you the link to the open access, hence free to download, book with academic philosophical papers on limitarianism. It’s a combination of reprints and new material, and the essays generally assume some background knowledge in contemporary normative political philosophy. I’m hoping this will be interesting for students and scholars of the philosophy of distributive justice, and related areas. Also, the entire volume is currently being translated into Spanish, and will also be published Open Access before too long. The trade book – although very broadly on the same topic, is a very different beast, about which more some other time.



engels 08.28.23 at 11:04 pm

Looks very interesting! Although it looks like you define this with reference to wealth, you may be aware upper earnings limits were recently a political issue in UK: proposed by Corbyn and, predictably, dismissed by establishment economists (and, more surprisingly, the Greens).


Ingrid Robeyns 08.29.23 at 8:14 pm

Engels @1 – yes, there have been more proposals on having a maximum wage (Sam Pizzigati discusses some, including the Swiss referndum, in his book with that title), but I didn’t know the Greens opposed it. We do have a maximum wage in the Netherlands for a certain group – the highest level executives in the public sector, or public-sector-like organisations like universities, cannot earn more than the prime minister. So no situations in the Netherlands with vice-chancellors earning millions or more. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. But the real economic inequalities at the top are in assets and income from assets/capital, not in labour income, so there’s little point focussing only or excessively on labour income.


hix 08.31.23 at 1:23 pm

Thanks, already on my ebookreader. Realistically, while i could get it for free anyway from the University library as a pdf, i´d be one case that would be to lazy to get it from there.

Not sure reading it is a wise choice however (and i tend to read everything once it does arrive on my ebook reader) i´ll probably agree for the most part, know more details, think about it and just get more angry for a while with no hope to change anything.


Ingrid Robeyns 09.04.23 at 3:37 pm

@hix – I’m sorry to say that the trade book will be much worse in terms of making people angry (except though if you already read a lot of this stuff on inequalities and economic oppressions/exploitation/unfairness, there might not be much new in it). This book is fairly technical and dry philosophical stuff, very much detached from empirical content, and that somehow makes it possible for us, philosophers, to forget about how horrible the empirical reality behind these abstract theoretical constructs is…

Also, I wish I was able to read everything that I download! I download a lot, but miserably fail to read all the books/articles that I download, even the ones that I buy and/or receive as presents… :-(

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