Poverty, justice, and western political thought (review)

Journal of the History of Philosophy 47 (1):pp. 151-152 (2009)

Abstract
This book is an important effort to fill a notable void in moral and political philosophy, for there has been, according to Sharon K. Vaughan, “no formal study of the treatment of poverty in Western political thought” . Vaughan attempts to rectify this with a survey of the views of Plato, Aristotle, Locke, Rousseau, Adam Smith, Mill, de Tocqueville, Hegel, Marx, Rawls, and Nozick on the subject of poverty, the poor, the redistribution of wealth, and justice. Her effort is valuable, even if more work remains to be done.The time is well chosen for Vaughan’s undertaking, both because of the resurgence of political philosophy in the past forty years and also because of a more recent interest in the relationship between the empirical sciences and philosophy. An account of poverty, and a philosophical theory of how to respond to poverty, are clearly of importance to the justice project, central to contemporary political philosophy; but it is unlikely to be carried out well without attention to empirical details concerning the sources of poverty, the demographics of the poor, analyses of programs that have, and have not, been effectively used in the past, and the like. As Daniel Shapiro has recently shown in Is the
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DOI 10.1353/hph.0.0102
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