Equality and priority

Utilitas 17 (3):299-309 (2005)
Abstract
This article argues that, contrary to the received view, prioritarianism and egalitarianism are not jointly incompatible theories in normative ethics. By introducing a distinction between weighing and aggregating, the authors show that the seemingly conflicting intuitions underlying prioritarianism and egalitarianism are consistent. The upshot is a combined position, equality-prioritarianism, which takes both prioritarian and egalitarian considerations into account in a technically precise manner. On this view, the moral value of a distribution of well-being is a product of two factors: the sum of all individuals' priority-adjusted well-being, and a measure of the equality of the distribution in question. Some implications of equality-prioritarianism are considered.
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