Homelessness, Philosophy, and Public Policy

In: The Ethics of Homelessness: Philosophical Perspectives
Author: Naomi Zack

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Abstract

Practical, theoretical, and cultural levels of homelessness, taken individually or combined, support a philosophical approach. The history of United States homelessness yields a contrast between past identities of homeless persons and their identities, now. There is at this time a sharp divide between what is public and what is private, regarding human functions and activities. The poverty of homelessness and its ills is the result of the symbolic value of material consumption, which goes beyond basic needs. Homelessness is impossible to solve or fully eradicate at this time, because any effective solution would probably increase the population requiring the solution. The only solution that would be successful is a guaranteed income for all residents or citizens. In reality, homelessness remains an immiserating condition that for the time being relies on local charitable attitudes and acts. However, insofar as opportunities to help the homeless are not taken, over time, their condition can be viewed as unjust.

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