Appointed As

Practicing the Humanities Initiative


ACLS Emerging Voices Fellowships program


University of California, Berkeley

PhD Field of Study

PhD, Philosophy, Loyola University Chicago

Dissertation Abstract

"Hic Rhodus, hic salta! Three Conceptions of the Modern Inequality Paradox"

The modern epoch is characterized by a paradoxical form of social inequality: poverty expands alongside an unprecedented growth in socially produced wealth. Any conception of this dynamic stakes a claim within the classical liberal problematic, where the central political challenge is the negotiation of individual interests with those of the social whole.
Part one of this work analyzes three conceptions of this inequality paradox, those of G.W.F. Hegel, Karl Marx and John Maynard Keynes. Each encompasses a perspective on the nation-state and its relationship to the institutions of economic intercourse. Chapter One analyzes and argues for an interpretation of “the problem of poverty” in Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. I intervene in an ongoing discussion on whether and how Hegel resolves the problem he raises, which holds important implications for those drawing insights from Hegel’s work today. Marx’s work responds to Hegel and represents an original viewpoint on modern inequality (Chapter Two). He identifies its dual economic and political character. I argue that the consolidation of modern property relations in Europe played a critical role in the development of his conception and most theoretically significant is his debate with Proudhon on the causes of inequality. Chapter Three presents an analysis of Keynes’s conception of the inequality paradox. I offer a philosophical assessment of his proposed rectification, showing the justifications he offers bear remarkable similarity to Hegel’s approach to the issue.
Part two takes us to the present day. Expansion of social inequality in the last phase of the global expansion of capitalism has strained the nation-state system to its limits, posing economic and political challenges for which there are no existing institutional solutions. Considering the historical conceptions, I offer an appraisal of contemporary Keynesian perspectives and a counter-assessment, based on the inequality data Piketty, Zucman, Saez, et al. have produced, to argue for a more equitable and democratic alternative.