Date of Award

2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Theology

Abstract

In this dissertation, I argue in favor of an alternative approach to the problem of global poverty, one that is distinct in significant ways from current philosophical approaches of utilitarianism, human rights, or an ethic of care. While these approaches have their merits, I will argue that they are all insufficient (in various ways) to deal with the problem of global poverty. Given their shortcomings, a new approach is needed. My alternative ethical approach contains two major facets: It provides a compelling moral motivation to act to end global poverty, and it also suggests specific initiatives that will prove effective in this endeavor.

I argue that conditions of poverty, whether on our doorstep or around the world, are not just doing something to the poor, but they are doing something to us as well: we are forced to suppress our human impulses to aid. In order to avoid this harm, we require a new lens through which to approach the issue of poverty. This lens has its genesis in Karl Marx's understanding of our human nature as "species-being." This concept provides a vision of a world not only without poverty, but also one in which all people are able to become as fully human as possible through meaningful labor.

I claim that this fundamental human need for meaningful labor is being denied to the poor of the world through the implementation of labor-saving technologies. Such technology (and its value within our current economic system) is a significant causal factor in the continued existence of poverty. To attack this root cause of poverty and create a more fully human world, I argue that we must revisit the role that labor-saving technology plays in the productive process. This can push us towards realizing a fully human world; one wherein each individual realizes her human nature as a productive being, and one in which she is able to heed her human impulses to help fellow human beings in need, rather than masking these impulses through the harms of self-deception.

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