It depends on each case of a person involved in personal wealth creation. In this paper, I would like to suggest that when discussing Bill Gate’s example, one can argue that wealth accumulation under one man can be even more ethical than its redistribution among many individuals. To support this claim, I will rely on two philosophical perspectives: utilitarianism and Kantian moral philosophy. When discussing the ethics of wealth accumulation, one can consider its consequences. Here, the utilitarian perspective provides a fruitful ground for philosophical justification since it states that something is good if its consequences are good, and vice versa. Stemming from the fact that maximizing pleasure (happiness, welfare) and minimizing suffering (pain, vice, punishment) are the main motives of any action, Bentham concluded that the best government would be the one that follows the principle of “the greatest good for the greatest number” (as cited in CrashCourse, 2016). If we consider the redistribution of wealth among many individuals, it corresponds to utilitarian ethics only in the short term.
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Bill Gates spends a significant part of his money on charity and scientific development. It seems improbable that collective action of similar investments would overweight Bill Gates’ contribution. Thus, such redistribution seems to be hazardous in a long-term perspective since it would lead to significant losses in spheres that develop only due to external investments (TEXx Talks, 2013). Although Kantian moral philosophy contradicts many utilitarian principles, I believe it still proves my point. Kant defines enlightenment as “man’s emancipation from his self-imposed immaturity,” and immaturity here is the situation when people do not think for themselves relying rather on guidelines and rules “from above” (as cited in Westacott, 2020, para. 23). It seems that it is still the question of whether the majority of people can follow their goodwill and the Kantian categorical imperative. Bill Gates seems to act out of his moral duty when giving money to charity and science to develop these socially essential spheres. When redistributed, this wealth could cease serving this purpose.
Thus, the concentration of wealth under one man that could be rearranged with a good intent rather than merely among many individuals seems more ethically plausible.
CrashCourse. (2016). Utilitarianism: crash course philosophy. Web.
TEXx Talks. (2013). Socially-responsible investing for long term safety and returns Tom Van Dyck at TEXxNewWallStreet. Web.
Westacott, E. (2020). Moral Philosophy According to Immanuel Kant. Web.