Men Who Would Be Kings

Social Theory and Practice 38 (2):193-212 (2012)
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Abstract

The luck egalitarian view famously maintains that inequalities in individuals' circumstances are unfair, whereas inequalities traceable to individuals' own responsible choices are fair. There is, however, an important question about the inequality justifying power of responsible choice where choices are made in circumstances of existing unfair inequality. This paper considers a luck egalitarian answer to this question which holds that individuals are fairly held liable for disadvantages resulting from their choices unless that disadvantage would have been avoided under circumstances of fair equality. The paper argues that this counterfactual account faces multiple serious problems, rendering it a tool of only limited use for the luck egalitarian.

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Gideon Elford
University of Oxford

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