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Against Inheritance: A Town called “Inheritance”

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While my criticisms of inheritance might seem silly and, worse, leftist, it is in perfect accord with fundamental American political philosophy and the foundation of capitalism. Our good dead friend Thomas Jefferson said, “A power to dispose of estates forever is manifestly absurd. The earth and the fulness of it belongs to every generation, and the preceding one can have no right to bind it up from posterity. Such extension of property is quite unnatural.” The Moses of capitalism, Adam Smith, said that “There is no point more difficult to account for than the right we conceive men to have to dispose of their goods after death.” As such, opposition to inheritance is American, conservative, and capitalistic. But this provides no reason to accept my view. What I will advance in this essay is an argument by intuition against inheritance using a fictional town called “Inheritance.” Imagine, in a time before COVID-19, that you have been hired as an IT person for Heritage, a company in the town of Inheritance. You pack up your belongings and drive to the town. You spend the first week getting up to speed with the company and are not at all surprised when you find that the top officers of the company are family members—the current owner is the son of the previous owner. This is, after all, not uncommon. You are, however, a bit surprised to find out that almost everyone who works for the company inherited their job. You are one of the few exceptions because the previous IT person quit, and their daughter did not want to inherit the job. This strikes you as rather odd. But a job is a job and you are happy to be employed. You learn that the town has an upcoming founders’ day and you sign up for the 5K. You find it a bit odd that the race entry form asks you for you best inherited 5K time, but chalk that up to some fun with the town’s name. You are a bit out of training, but run a 18:36 5K, the next closest person crosses the line at 26:22. Since an iPad Pro. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

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