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The Leveling-Down Objection

Edited by Theron Pummer (Oxford University, University of California, San Diego)
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  1. Thomas Christiano & Will Braynen (2008). Inequality, Injustice and Levelling Down. Ratio 21 (4):392-420.
    The levelling down objection is the most serious objection to the principle of equality, but we think it can be conclusively defeated. It is serious because it pits the principle of equality squarely against the welfares of the persons whose welfares or resources are equalized. It suggests that there is something perverse about the principle of equality. In this paper, we argue that levelling down is not an implication of the principle of equality. To show this we offer a defence (...)
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  2. Marc Fleurbaey & Alex Voorhoeve (2012). Egalitarianism and the Separateness of Persons. Utilitas 24 (3):381-398.
    The difference between the unity of the individual and the separateness of persons requires that there be a shift in the moral weight that we accord to changes in utility when we move from making intrapersonal tradeoffs to making interpersonal tradeoffs. We examine which forms of egalitarianism can, and which cannot, account for this shift. We argue that a form of egalitarianism which is concerned only with the extent of outcome inequality cannot account for this shift. We also argue that (...)
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  3. Matthew Lister (2012). Review of Carl Knight, Luck Egalitarianism. [REVIEW] Journal of Moral Philosophy 9 (1):127-30.
  4. David McCarthy (forthcoming). Distributive Equality. Mind.
    Egalitarians think that equality in the distribution of goods somehow matters. But what exactly is egalitarianism? This article argues for a characterization based on novel principles essentially involving risk. The characterization is used to resolve disputed questions about egalitarianism, such as its compatibility with strong separability and its relation to other distributive theories. But egalitarianism is subject to a particularly severe form of the levelling down objection, and is claimed to be false.
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  5. David McCarthy (forthcoming). Distributive Equality. Mind.
    Egalitarians think that equality in the distribution of goods somehow matters. But what exactly is egalitarianism? This article argues for a characterization based on novel principles essentially involving risk. The characterization is used to resolve disputed questions about egalitarianism, such as its compatibility with strong separability and its relation to other distributive theories. But egalitarianism is subject to a particularly severe form of the levelling down objection, and is claimed to be false.
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  6. Donovan Miyasaki (forthcoming). (2014) A Nietzschean Case for Egalitarianism. In Barry Stocker & Manuel Knoll (eds.), Nietzsche as Political Philosopher. Walter de Gruyter.
    This paper draws on Friedrich Nietzsche’s work to defend the (admittedly non-Nietzschean) conclusion that a non-liberal egalitarian society is superior in two ways: first, as a moral ideal, it does not rest on questionable claims about essential human equality and, second, such a society would provide the optimal psychological and political conditions for individual wellbeing, social stability, and cultural achievement. I first explain Nietzsche’s distinction between forms of egalitarianism: noble and slavish. The slavish form promotes equality, defined negatively as the (...)
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  7. Donovan Miyasaki (2013). Nietzsche's Will to Power as Naturalist Critical Ontology. History of Philosophy Quarterly 30 (3):251-69.
    In this paper, I argue that Nietzsche’s published works contain a substantial, although implicit, argument for the will to power as ontology—a critical and descriptive, rather than positive and explanatory, theory of reality. Further, I suggest this ontology is entirely consistent with a naturalist methodology. The will to power ontology follows directly from Nietzsche’s naturalist rejection of three metaphysical presuppositions: substance, efficient causality, and final causality. I show that a number of interpretations, including those of Clark, Schacht, Reginster, and Richardson, (...)
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  8. Thomas Porter (2011). Prioritarianism and the Levelling Down Objection. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 14 (2):197-206.
    I discuss Ingmar Persson’s recent argument that the Levelling Down Objection could be worse for prioritarians than for egalitarians. Persson’s argument depends upon the claim that indifference to changes in the average prioritarian value of benefits implies indifference to changes in the overall prioritarian value of a state of affairs. As I show, however, sensible conceptions of prioritarianism have no such implication. Therefore prioritarians have nothing to fear from the Levelling Down Objection.
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  9. Max Seeger (2011). A Critique of the Incentives Argument for Inequalities. Kriterion 25 (1):40-52.
    According to the incentives argument, inequalities in material goods are justifiable if they are to the benefit of the worst off members of society. In this paper, I point out what is easily overlooked, namely that inequalities are justifiable only if they are to the overall benefit of the worst off, that is, in terms of both material and social goods. I then address the question how gains in material goods can be weighed against probable losses in social goods. The (...)
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  10. Re'em Segev (2009). Second-Order Equality and Levelling Down. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 87 (3):425 – 443.
    Many think that equality is an intrinsic value. However, this view, especially when based on a consequential foundation, faces familiar objections related to the claim that equality is sometimes good for none and bad for some: most notably the levelling down objection. This article explores a unique (consequential) conception of equality, as part of a more general conception of fairness concerning the resolution of interpersonal conflicts, which is not exposed to these objections.
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  11. Yingying Tang & Lei Zhong (2013). Toward a Demystification of Egalitarianism. Philosophical Forum 44 (2):149-163.
    The opponents of egalitarianism insist that distributional equality can never have intrinsic value, because it is hard to find how equal distribution could benefit people intrinsically. In this paper, we attempt to demystify the intrinsic value of distributional equality and suggest a possible direction of vindicating egalitarianism. First, we propose the principle that it is (epistemically) reasonable to regard x as an intrinsic value for a person S if S rationally desires x for its own sake. Second, we argue by (...)
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