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Market, State, and CommunityTheoretical Foundations of Market Socialism$
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David Miller

Print publication date: 1990

Print ISBN-13: 9780198278641

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198278640.001.0001

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Altruism and Welfare

Altruism and Welfare

Chapter:
(p.98) 4 Altruism and Welfare
Source:
Market, State, and Community
Author(s):

David Miller (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0198278640.003.0005

Libertarians argue that altruistic concern for the poor should be channelled through private charity rather than through a (compulsory) welfare state. Altruism, however, is a complex idea. Should it be directed at satisfying preferences or at meeting needs? We also need to distinguish between calculating altruists, who are concerned only about collective outcomes and would prefer not to contribute themselves; reciprocal altruists, who are willing to contribute so long as others do too; and conscientious altruists, who are willing to contribute their share regardless of how other people behave. Both calculating and reciprocal altruists have good reason to prefer the welfare state to private charity as a way of meeting their concern for the badly off.

Keywords:   altruism, charity, conscience, game theory, libertarianism, needs, preferences, reciprocity, welfare state

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