Advertisement

Inheritance Taxation, Equal Opportunities and the Desire of Immortality

  • Toon Vandevelde
Conference paper
Part of the Studies in Economic Ethics and Philosophy book series (SEEP)

Abstract

The question of the legitimacy of inheritance and inheritance taxation disturbs the familiar oppositions in economic and ethical thought and in political philosophy and practice. Some libertarians, who otherwise advocate an absolute respect for property rights, are nevertheless in favour of limitations to the freedom to bequeath. Socialists who proposed to abolish inheritance encountered strong resistance in their own organisations. Even in the First International the abolition of inheritance failed to obtain a majority.1 Communitarians who mostly take side with socialist reformists tend to disagree with them on this issue. Liberal economists using efficiency arguments clash with liberal political philosophers defending equity and equality of opportunity. The disruption of the fixed ideological and philosophical landscape is, however, not necessarily a bad thing. Ultimately the discussion about a topic like inheritance taxation shows better than any abstract controversy between schools of thought the limits of communitarian, liberal, libertarian, egalitarian or socialist theory. By pointing to some examples of ambivalence towards inheritance (taxation) we try to highlight the implicit value debate at stake here.

Keywords

Distributive Justice Moral Ideal Bequest Motive Estate Taxation Inheritance Taxation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Becker, G.S. (1991): A Treatise on the Family,Cambridge (Harvard University Press).Google Scholar
  2. Bracewell-Milnes, B. (1994): Will to Succeed. Inheritance without Taxation,London (Adam Smith Institute).Google Scholar
  3. Erreygers, G. (1996): Early Socialist Thought on Bequest and Inheritance (Paper presented at the 23rd Annual Conference of the History of Economics Society Conference, University of British Columbia, Vancouver ), University of Antwerp (UFSIA-SESO), mimeo.Google Scholar
  4. Frankfurt, H. (1987): “Equality as a moral ideal”, Ethics, 98, pp. 21–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Goodin, R.E. (1987), “Egalitarianism, fetishistic and otherwise”, Ethics, 98, pp. 44–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Haslett, D.W. (1986): “Is inheritance justified?”, Philosophy and Public Affairs, 15, pp. 122–55.Google Scholar
  7. Kommmoff, L.J. (1992): Generational Accounting. Knowing Who Pays, and When, For What We Spend, New York (Free Press), 1992.Google Scholar
  8. Masson, A. and Pestieau, P. (1994): “L’héritage et l’Etat”, in: P. PESTIEAU (Ed.): Héritage et Transferts Entre Générations, Bruxelles (De Boeck), pp. 15–44.Google Scholar
  9. McCamfery, E.J. (1994): “The political liberal case against the estate tax”, Philosophy and Public Affairs, 23, pp. 281–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Nozick, R. (1974): Anarchy, State and Utopia,Oxford (Blackwell).Google Scholar
  11. Nozick, R. (1989): The Examined Life: Philosophical Meditations,New York (Simon & Schuster).Google Scholar
  12. Sen, A. (1982): “Rational fools: A critique of the behavioural foundations of economic theory”, in: A. Sen, Choice, Welfare and Measurement, Oxford (Blackwell), pp. 91–9.Google Scholar
  13. Sievers, B. (1994): Work, Death and Life Itself. Essays on Management and Organisation,Berlin (de Gruyter).Google Scholar
  14. Smith, A. (1976), An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, ed. by R.H. Campbell, A.S. Skinner and W.B. Todd, Oxford (Oxford University Press) (= The Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence of Adam Smith, Vol. I I ).Google Scholar
  15. Steiner, H. (1992): “Three just taxes”, in: P. VAN PARUS (Ed.): Arguing for Basic Income. Ethical Foundations for a Radical Reform, London, New York (Verso), pp. 81–92.Google Scholar
  16. Steiner, H. (1994): An Essay on Rights,Oxford (Blackwell).Google Scholar
  17. Williams, B. (1973): “The idea of equality” in: B. WILLIAMS, Problems of the Self Philosophical Papers 1956–1972, Cambridge (Cambridge University Press), pp. 230–49.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Toon Vandevelde

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations