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The Fiscal Social Contract: How Taxation can be Applied as a Tool for Social Good in Irish Society


Monday, February 20, 2023, 17:00 - 19:30


The Royal Irish Academy, 19 Dawson Street, Dublin 2


Free event but booking essential

Can taxation be a tool for social good? 

Social contract theory as espoused by the philosophers Rousseau and Hobbes is conceptually straightforward; an arrangement in which individual rights are yielded to Government for the sake of the collective interest. Essentially the arrangement is a reciprocal one between the people and those to whom governance has been assigned. The tax system of a country is a microcosm of the social contract, in that citizens pay tax and, in turn, receive public goods and services. The population assent to pay taxes only as long as they value what they gain from it. Social contract theory is at the heart of the tax discussion as it defines the framework for our fiscal relationship with Government. In the face of permacrises, there is an opportunity to rethink fiscal policy to ensure a social contract that delivers resilience, social cohesion and social justice, which is built on the foundation of a fair and flourishing economy.

This RIA discussion panel brings together a line-up of distinguished speakers to consider these issues with reference to the recommendations and findings of the 2022 Commission on Taxation and Welfare's report, "Foundations for the Future".

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Niamh Moloney Hon MRIA , London School of Economics and Chair of the Commission on Taxation and Welfare.
  • Brian Nolan MRIA , Professor of Social Policy, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  • Professor Mary Murphy, Professor of Sociology, Maynooth University

Registration 17.00: event begins at 17.15 and will be followed by a reception.

Please address any queries to

This event is supported by the Department of Finance.


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