In this lecture, Frank Thompson, Lecturer and Research Investigator at the University of Michigan, will offer an introductory analysis of the notion of morally arbitrary advantage, focusing on morally arbitrary economic advantage (and disadvantage). This analysis is developed in the framework of the canonical general competitive equilibrium model of neoclassical economic theory. The main conclusion, demonstrated conceptually and empirically, is that different people possessing indistinguishable levels of “human capital” will receive different (often astonishingly so) returns for equally industriously using their human capital, i.e., working. The explanation for this is differential access to technology and (non-human) capital.
Professor Thompson is a 2014 Baker-Nord Scholar-in-Residence.
Frank Thompson is a social scientist (Ph.D., Economics, Michigan, 1998) with a broad background in the humanities (Ph.D., Philosophy, Harvard, 1973). His teaching in the Residential College, centered in political economy including normative matters, complements his courses in the LSA Economics Department devoted to economic development, inequality, and philosophical questions arising in social science, especially in economics.
Thompson’s articles have been published in both philosophy and economics journals. A current focus of his research is intergenerational justice, i.e., how much should we save and how fast should we deplete nonrenewable natural resources.
Click HERE to visit Professor Thompson’s faculty page.
Click HERE for Thompson’s working paper “Morally Arbitrary Economic Advantage”.