Prioritarianism, Levelling Down and Welfare Diffusion

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 14 (3):307-311 (2011)
Abstract
I have earlier argued that, like egalitarianism, prioritarianism is exposed to the levelling down objection—which I do not find serious—but also that it faces related, more serious objections that egalitarianism avoids. In this paper I reply to Thomas Porter’s attempt to rebut this argument. I also trace the more serious objections to prioritarianism to the fact that it implies the desirability of welfare diffusion, i.e. that it is better all things considered if a quantity of welfare is distributed over as many recipients as possible, so that each recipient gets a minimal benefit, and that the outcome would still be in one respect better, even if the quantity of welfare was reduced. In contrast to egalitarianism, prioritarianism therefore implies that it is in one respect better if an equality, or a solitary individual, is located at lower rather than a higher level of welfare
Keywords Egalitarianism  Levelling down objection  Parfit  Porter  Prioritarianism
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    References found in this work BETA
    Derek Parfit (2001). Equality or Priority? In John Harris (ed.), Bioethics. Oup Oxford.
    Ingmar Persson (2001). Equality, Priority and Person-Affecting Value. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 4 (1):23-39.
    Thomas Porter (2011). Prioritarianism and the Levelling Down Objection. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 14 (2):197-206.
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