Ireland after the Celtic Tiger: A study in social injustice

In Clara Fischer & Áine Mahon (eds.), Philosophical Perspectives on Contemporary Ireland (2019)

Vittorio Bufacchi
University College Cork
This chapter explores the philosophical nature of social injustice in contemporary Ireland. By appealing to four key concepts in contemporary political philosophy, this chapter will expose the tension between Ireland’s strong economy, currently growing faster than any other country in the European Union, and the persistent unacceptable levels of poverty and inequality in all aspects of Irish society. There are three parts to the main thesis advanced in this chapter. First, to defend the political philosophy of egalitarianism from prioritarian critics. Secondly, to refute what is known in the literature as the Levelling-Down Objection to egalitarianism, according to which we ought to prefer a state of affairs where everyone is worse off as long as equality is maintained. Third, to suggest that Levelling-Down should not be seen as something objectionable, but merely as a much-needed correction. In the final part of the chapter, two possible solutions to the problem of inequality and social injustice in Ireland will be put forward: the introduction of a maximum income cap and a radical reassessment of Ireland’s historically entrenched assumption of the right to private property as an absolute right.
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