Should economic inequality concern us? What level of economic inequality do we find (un)acceptable, and on what grounds? And what does this mean for how we look at responsibility?
Economic Inequality: (Why) Should We Care?
Should economic inequality concern us? To what extent is economic inequality problematic? Why? What level of economic inequality do we find (un)acceptable, and on what grounds? And following from this, what do we see as the role and responsibility of the government and other parties vis-à-vis economic inequality (if any)?
Tonight, we explore different normative positions regarding these questions, and exchange perspectives with economist and politician Esther-Mirjam Sent, political philosopher Martin van Hees, and investigative journalist Sander Heijne. How can we understand different points of view? Where do they come from, and what kind of paradigms do they reflect? And where do you recognize your personal ideas in this complex and politically charged discussion?
About the speakers
Esther-Mirjam Sent is professor of Economic Theory and Policy at Radboud University. Her research interests include behavioural economics, experimental economics and economic policy, as well as the history and philosophy of economics and the economics of science. Particular points of interest are limited rationality, emotion and gender.
Esther-Mirjam obtained her doctorate from Stanford University, under the guidance of Nobel prize winner Kenneth Arrow. She has worked at the University of Notre Dame (US), the London School of Economics (UK) and the Erasmus University Rotterdam (NL). From 2009 to 2011, she was a council member at the Council for Societal Development (Raad voor Maatschappelijke Ontwikkeling). Between 2011 and 2021 she was member of the Senate (Eerste Kamer) for the PvdA (Labour Party), and since 2021 she serves as chairperson of that party.
Martin van Hees
Martin van Hees is professor of Moral and Political Philosophy at VU University in Amsterdam, and Dean of Amsterdam University College (AUC). In his study of moral and political values he focuses in particular on the relationship between justice, responsibility and freedom. He has analysed the conditions under which people can be held responsible for the outcomes of decisions that involve many different agents and the extent to which rights can help solve coordination problems.
His research has a strong interdisciplinarity orientation, making use of tools and methods from economics, political science and philosophy.
Sander Heijne is investigative journalist and historian. He worked on the economics editorial board of de Volkskrant, where he developed a fascination for the effect of bureaucratic systems on our everyday existence. He wrote, among other things, about market forces in the public sector for online journalism platform De Correspondent. On this topic, he published the book Er zijn nog 17 miljoen wachtenden voor u (There are still 17 million waiting in front of you, 2018). Together with Hendrik Noten, he wrote the book Fantoomgroei – waarom we steeds harder werken voor steeds minder (Phantom growth - why we work harder and harder for less and less, 2020) on the discrepancy between the fast-growing economy and the lagging incomes. Together with journalist and television producer Jeroen Pauw he developed the television series Scheefgroei (Skewed growth) on growing inequalities.
About lecture series ‘Economic Inequality’
Discussions on economic inequality have increasingly been gaining traction over the past years. Time to take a dive into this much-discussed theme, and to gain a deeper understanding of its complexities as well as the debates surrounding it.
What are we talking about, and how can we understand the rising attention for economic inequality? Why can people mean different things when they talk about it? And (why) should we care about it? Explore the nature, backgrounds and ramifications of economic inequality, and discuss different perspectives on its (un)acceptability and ways to deal with it.