Calibration dilemmas in the ethics of distribution

Economics and Philosophy 39 (1):67-98 (2023)
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This paper presents a new kind of problem in the ethics of distribution. The problem takes the form of several “calibration dilemmas,” in which intuitively reasonable aversion to small-stakes inequalities requires leading theories of distribution to recommend intuitively unreasonable aversion to large-stakes inequalities. We first lay out a series of such dilemmas for prioritarian theories. We then consider a widely endorsed family of egalitarian views and show that they are subject to even more forceful calibration dilemmas than prioritarian theories. Finally, we show that our results challenge common utilitarian accounts of the badness of inequalities in resources.

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Author Profiles

Jake Nebel
Princeton University
H. Orri Stefansson
Stockholm University

References found in this work

Risk and Rationality.Lara Buchak - 2013 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Equality or Priority?Derek Parfit - 2001 - In John Harris (ed.), Bioethics. Oxford University Press. pp. 81-125.

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