capitalism, politics, economics, philosophy

Document Type

Main Theme / Tema Central


This project will explore how economic vulnerability plays a role in the functioning and maintenance of today’s economic and political systems while investigating how substantive freedom is threatened by economic precarity, why widespread vulnerability is minimally addressed by the state, and potential reforms to the current economic and political arrangement that could be made to ameliorate material harm. Much focus has been dedicated to the study of the coercive power of capitalism, but by analyzing how vulnerability is caused, perpetuated, and taken advantage of, a comprehensive understanding of the lived experiences of the working class, as well as their ability to actualize their freedoms, can be gained. I argue that individual freedom is diminished by economic vulnerability as those that are the least affluent, while legally being free, are severely restricted in how they can live their lives, and I argue that the vulnerability produced by our economic systems is not merely a byproduct, but a feature. Furthermore, I investigate the material and empirical extent of vulnerability within the United States and attempts by the state and politicians to remedy economic vulnerability. These solutions often fall short in a variety of ways and rarely intend to directly challenge or restructure the core incentives and motives driving the capitalist system. Finally, I offer potential reforms and large-scale changes that could work to lessen or completely eliminate the burden of material harm and subsequently enhance the freedoms of those within the United States.



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