Fairness, Costs, and Procreative Justice

Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 24 (2) (2023)
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Abstract

A commitment to holding persons responsible for the consequences of their choices has come to find a central expression in certain popular liberal egalitarian views. However, the basis for their commitment to responsibility remains imprecisely understood. Specifically, there is a failure to distinguish between two distinct grounds for holding persons responsible for the consequences of their choices. On the one hand there is a fairness-type basis for responsibility – that an agent’s being better or worse off than others in virtue of their own choice renders that inequality fair, on the other hand an importantly distinct cost-internalisation-type basis for responsibility – that an agent’s being better or worse off than others in virtue of their own choice is just because others have entitlements against certain costs being imposed upon them. This distinction is illuminated by a debate in which issues of egalitarian responsibility figure prominently; namely the debate concerning procreative justice.

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Gideon Elford
University of Oxford

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