Review Essay

Questions of Fairness

In This Review

Economic Justice in an Unfair World: Toward a Level Playing Field

Economic Justice in an Unfair World: Toward a Level Playing Field
By Ethan B. Kapstein
Princeton University Press,, 2006, 272 pp. $27.95 Purchase


"The predatory attitude has become the habitual and accredited spiritual attitude," the economist Thorstein Veblen said of the late nineteenth century. The same holds true today. A few years ago, Paul Volcker, the former chair of the Federal Reserve, remarked that "corporate greed [had] exploded beyond anything that could have been imagined in 1990." Paul O'Neill, the former U.S. treasury secretary, recently described the corporate world today as "an ethical vacuum space."

Yet even in a climate apparently so uncongenial to ethics, "global poverty" has shot up to the top of the agenda of international public policy since the late 1990s. The United Nations gave tangible expression to this new global mood in 2000 when it created the Millennium Development Goals and made "eradicating extreme poverty and hunger" the first of them. A recent report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

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