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Research Seminar in Post-Kantian European Philosophy, 2019/2020

Unless otherwise stated, Post-Kantian European Philosophy Research Group seminars take place on Tuesdays, 5:30–7:30pm in Room S0.11 (ground floor of Social Studies). All welcome. For further information, please contact tbc

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PG Work in Progress Seminar

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Location: S2.77, The Cowling Room

Speaker: Adam Neal

Title: 'Social Poverty'

Respondent: Simon Gansinger


The paper explores the relationship between material deprivation, and our needs as social beings. It argues that those who suffer at that intersection do so in two distinct but sometimes overlapping ways: 1) their needs for friendship, human contact and intimacy; and 2) status driven harms. The paper then conceptualises these harms as social poverty and argues that any complete account of poverty should include the impact on our social needs and our social position. The paper explores the ways in which each aspect of social poverty can lead to a worsening of material conditions. These include the social capital we gain from our social relationships, the impact of social poverty on our ability to participate in the job market and the impact on our ability to make and sustain social connections. The paper contextualises social poverty by discussing studies on the residents of Chicago who died during the 1995 Heatwave, poverty in inner city areas and low-income pensioners. After assessing different accounts of poverty, the paper shows that assessing poverty using income fails to do justice to the many factors which determine the extent of one's deprivation, including people's environments, social situation, social norms, friends and family, unemployment and life expectancy. This leads to an assessment of poverty as capability deprivation which, the paper argues, is more effective in assessing deprivation in respect of our nature as social beings. However, the paper argues that capability deprivation goes too far from our ordinary understanding of poverty. Instead, the paper outlines a conception of social poverty and argues that should be prominent in our thinking about deprivation.

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