The Normative Foundations of (Social) Insurance: Technology, Social Practice and Political Philosophy

WP-LPF 6/13

WP-LPF 2013
Articolo completo/Full text


Insurance mechanisms are prevalent in industrialized societies, in both public and private sectors. Insurance is offered for various risks ranging from fire to accident. They also constitute the core of the modern welfare state (public health insurance, unemployment benefits and public pensions). The analysis of (public) insurance has however remained marginal in political theory because insurance is often perceived as a simple tool for pursuing equality, i.e. a tool without any moral significance proper. This text proposes an alternative view by drawing a continuum between insurance as a technology, which is the common interpretation in economics, and insurance as a social practice, which characterizes social theory. The goal is to underline how the technology of insurance alters social practices by, for instance, promoting equal standing or transforming the paradigm of individual responsibility. This text initiates a dialogue between disciplines while drawing avenues for future research.