Consent, Kant, and the Ethics of Debt

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Date
2014-01-01
Authors
Padgett-Walsh, Kate
Padgett-Walsh, Kate
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Philosophy and Religious Studies
Abstract

The 2008 housing and financial crisis brought to light many ethically questionable lending and borrowing practices. As we learn more about what caused this crisis, it has become apparent that we need to think more carefully about the conditions under which can loans be ethically offered and accepted, but also about when it might be morally permissible to default on debts. I critique two distinct philosophical approaches to assessing the ethics of debt, arguing that both approaches are too simplistic because they focus only on individual borrowers and lenders. As a result, neither approach can adequately grasp the moral implications of the social and economic failures that frame actual dilemmas of debt facing many individuals today.

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This article is published as 2014 “Consent, Kant, and the Ethics of Debt” Philosophy in the Contemporary World 21(2): 14-25 doi: 10.5840/pcw201421211. Posted with permission.

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