Luck and Oppression

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 14 (5):533-547 (2011)
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Abstract

Oppression can be unjust from a luck egalitarian point of view even when it is the consequence of choices for which it is reasonable to hold persons responsible. This is for two reasons. First, people who have not been oppressed are unlikely to anticipate the ways in which their choices may lead them into oppressive conditions. Facts about systematic phenomena (like oppression) are often beyond the epistemic reach of persons who are not currently subject to such conditions, even when they possess adequate information about the particular consequences of their choices. Second, people may be (much) less responsible for remaining in oppressive conditions, even if they are responsible for entering circumstances of oppression. Oppression that results from a person’s choice may cause or contribute to dramatic changes in that person, and these changes may be sufficient to undermine the person’s responsibility for the results of her earlier choice.

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Mark Christopher Navin
Oakland University

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