Equality versus Priority: A Badly Misleading Distinction

Abstract
People condemn inequalities for many reasons. For example, many who have no concern with distribution per se criticize inequalities in health care, because these inequalities lessen the benefits provided by the resources that are devoted to health care. Others who place no intrinsic value on distribution believe that a just society must show a special concern for those who are worst off. Some people, on the other hand, do place an intrinsic value on equality of distribution, regardless of its contribution to other goals. Derek Parfit and Larry Temkin call these people "egalitarians." I shall always employ quotation marks when referring to "egalitarians" in this special sense, because, as I shall argue, this terminology is misleading. One of its unhappy implications is that almost all egalitarians are not "egalitarians."
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