Redistribution Without Egalitarianism

Social Philosophy and Policy 1 (01):71- (1983)
Abstract
I will, in this paper, set out the philosophical foundations and the basic structure of a new theory of justice. I will argue that both these foundations and the theory which is based upon them are intuitively attractive and theoretically sound. Finally, I will argue that both are supported by the fact that they lead to attractive implications such as the following: One can justify at least some governmental redistributive programs which presuppose that those receiving the wealth have a right to it, without being committed to any form of egalitarianism. The justification for these redistributive programs respects property entitlements; it argues, in effect, that property entitlements and rights to some redistribution of wealth presuppose each other, rather than being in conflict with each other. The amount of redistribution to which each indigent person is entitled is directly proportional to the wealth of the society in question and inversely proportional to the number of indigents in the society in question . There are at this stage in the history of Western thought few entirely new ideas in philosophy. Too much has been written about the important issues to allow for entirely new approaches. My theory is no exception to these generalizations, for it draws upon the tradition of John Locke, of the agrarian reforms such as Paine, Spence, and Ogilvie, and of libertarian writers such as Robert Nozick. Nevertheless, I will argue, the resulting theory is a significant advance over the ideas of these earlier writers
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