The Problem with Yuppie Ethics

Utilitas 30 (1):32-53 (2018)
  Copy   BIBTEX


How much personal partiality do agent-centred prerogatives allow? If there are limits on what morality may demand of us, then how much does it permit? For a view Henry Shue has termed ‘yuppie ethics’, the answer to both questions is a great deal. It holds that rich people are morally permitted to spend large amounts of money on themselves, even when this means leaving those living in extreme poverty unaided. Against this view, I demonstrate that personal permissions are limited in certain ways: their strength must be continuous with the reasons put forward to explain their presence inside morality to begin with. Typically, these reasons include non-alienation and the preservation of personal integrity. However, when personal costs do not result in alienation or violate integrity, they are things that morality can routinely demand of us. Yuppie ethics therefore runs afoul of what I call the ‘continuity constraint’.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 86,554

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Is Xunzi’s Virtue Ethics Susceptible to the Problem of Alienation?James Harold - 2011 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 10 (1):71-84.
Meta‐ethics and the problem of creeping minimalism.James Dreier - 2004 - Philosophical Perspectives 18 (1):23–44.
A hard problem indeed.Gregory R. Peterson - 2009 - Zygon 44 (1):19-29.
The moral problem.Michael Smith - 1994 - Cambridge, Mass., USA: Blackwell.
The Problem of the Problem of Akrasia.Stephen Cohen - 1986 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 67 (1):62.
Ethical life cycle of an innovation.Mari Meel & Maksim Saat - 2002 - Journal of Business Ethics 39 (1-2):21 - 27.
Problem-Solving Partnerships.[author unknown] - 1994 - Business Ethics: The Magazine of Corporate Responsibility 8 (4):26-31.


Added to PP

122 (#126,435)

6 months
5 (#192,994)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Citations of this work

Against “Democratizing AI”.Johannes Himmelreich - 2023 - AI and Society 38 (4):1333-1346.
Why Do We Disagree about our Obligations to the Poor?Peter Seipel - 2019 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 22 (1):121-136.
Effective Altruism and Extreme Poverty.Fırat Akova - 2020 - Dissertation, University of Warwick

Add more citations

References found in this work

On the genealogy of morals.Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche - 1967 - New York,: Vintage Books. Edited by Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche & Walter Arnold Kaufmann.
Alienation, consequentialism, and the demands of morality.Peter Railton - 1984 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 13 (2):134-171.
Moral saints.Susan Wolf - 1982 - Journal of Philosophy 79 (8):419-439.
Evolutionary Debunking Arguments.Guy Kahane - 2010 - Noûs 45 (1):103-125.
Normative Ethics.Shelly Kagan - 1998 - Mind 109 (434):373-377.

View all 16 references / Add more references