Luck-egalitarianism: Faults and collective choice

Economics and Philosophy 27 (2):151-173 (2011)
A standard formulation of luck-egalitarianism says that ‘it is [in itself] bad – unjust and unfair – for some to be worse off than others [through no fault or choice of their own]’, where ‘fault or choice’ means substantive responsibility-generating fault or choice. This formulation is ambiguous: one ambiguity concerns the possible existence of a gap between what is true of each worse-off individual and what is true of the group of worse-off individuals, fault or choice-wise, the other concerns the notion of fault. I show that certain ways of resolving these ambiguities lead to counterintuitive results; and that the most plausible way of resolving them leads to a theory of distributive justice in which responsibility plays a role significantly different from that in standard luck-egalitarian thinking. My main conclusion here is that luck-egalitarianism is best formulated as the view that it is [in itself] bad – unjust and unfair – for an individual to be worse off than others if, and only if, her being worse off does not fit the degree to which she is at fault in a not purely prudential sense.
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Frank Jackson (1997). Which Effects. In J. Dancy (ed.), Reading Parfit. Blackwell. 42--53.

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