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Religions 2017, 8(5), 86; doi:10.3390/rel8050086

Wealth, Well-Being, and the Danger of Having Too Much

Department of Philosophy, University of Notre Dame, 100 Malloy Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA
Academic Editors: Kate Ward and Kenneth Himes
Received: 5 February 2017 / Accepted: 26 April 2017 / Published: 8 May 2017
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Abstract

It is impossible for an agent who is classically economically rational to have so much wealth that it is harmful for them, since such an agent would simply give away their excess wealth. Actual agents, vulnerable to akrasia and lacking full information, are not economically rational, but economists, ethicists and political philosophers have nonetheless mostly ignored the possibility that having too much might be harmful in some ways. I survey the major philosophical theories of well-being and draw on ethics and the social sciences to point out several ways in which, on the most plausible of these theories, having too much, relative to other members of one’s society, might be harmful to oneself (for instance, by making it harder for one to have appropriate relationships with others, or by making it more likely than one will develop undesirable character traits). I argue that because egalitarian policies prevent these harms and provide the advantaged with other benefits (such as access to public goods which help rich and poor alike), egalitarian policies are not as harmful to the rich as is commonly supposed, and may even be helpful to them on balance. I close by discussing the practical implications of this. View Full-Text
Keywords: political philosophy; ethics; well-being; economic inequality; psychology political philosophy; ethics; well-being; economic inequality; psychology
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Crummett, D. Wealth, Well-Being, and the Danger of Having Too Much. Religions 2017, 8, 86.

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