This new and expanded edition of G. John M. Abbarno’s anthology
The Ethics of Homelessness underscores what is ignored in plain sight: people without a home or dwelling are also without privacy and dignity. It is argued that they lack moral standing. The chapters uncover the harsh realities of poverty where economic value overrides competing human values. Naomi Zack argues that homelessness is symbolic of society’s materialistic values. It has a tendency to resist sufficient charity and perpetuates conditions of injustice. Uma Narayan questions whether the homeless have protection under the U.S. Constitution. Other authors present an enlarged sphere of homeless to include runaway children, refugees, adoptees and the disabled. The book demonstrates the value of applied philosophy.
One third of the homeless population is mentally ill. This chapter demonstrates that percentage is sustained by a Libertarian view of rights; namely negative rights. Such rights do not fulfill the subsistence rights, rights that are positive and claim security, food, and shelter. The right to have a home is stymied by a series of ad hoc ordinances which satisfy rights of non-interference which leaves homeless to fend for themselves on the streets. An argument is developed for autonomy in proportion to what can be exercised by people without a home; conventional autonomy. Conventional autonomy overrides libertarian autonomy and defends the claim rights of the homeless to have a home.