Ethical limitarianism is an ethical theory relating to priorities of intervention where need or risk might be evident. As the principle of distributive justice advanced by Ingrid Robeyns, limitarianism states that it is morally impermissible to be (excessively) rich (i.e. have more economic resources than a certain level).
Types of ethical limitarianism
Ethical limitarianism is an ethical theory which (1) tries to be a partial account of distributive justice, (2) which belongs within the realms of politics rather than morality, (3) which is conceived and developed at the level of non-ideal theory, (4) which relies on an instrumental justification. It is related to effective altruism.
Democratic Limitarianism is a political theory that governments have priority duties to their citizenry to protect from risk and to ensure independence from fear, and thereby it urges that government prioritize protecting its citizens against fear of death or injury from:
- Domestic threats
- Foreign threats
- Social insecurity
- Environmental hazard
The ethical limitarianism of Ingrid Robeyns would contrast with this view of democratic limitarianism.
Earlier uses of term limitarianism
Ethical limitarianism is not to be confused with Christian theological limitarianism, which teaches that Christ's atonement applies only to the elect (as Calvinism), and not to all humanity (as Christian universalism taught), or of limited atonement and irresistible grace as St. Augustine had taught.