Prioritarianism, Levelling Down and Welfare Diffusion

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 14 (3):307-311 (2011)
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Abstract

I have earlier argued that, like egalitarianism, prioritarianism is exposed to the levelling down objection—which I do not find serious—but also that it faces related, more serious objections that egalitarianism avoids. In this paper I reply to Thomas Porter’s attempt to rebut this argument. I also trace the more serious objections to prioritarianism to the fact that it implies the desirability of welfare diffusion, i.e. that it is better all things considered if a quantity of welfare is distributed over as many recipients as possible, so that each recipient gets a minimal benefit, and that the outcome would still be in one respect better, even if the quantity of welfare was reduced. In contrast to egalitarianism, prioritarianism therefore implies that it is in one respect better if an equality, or a solitary individual, is located at lower rather than a higher level of welfare

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Ingmar Persson
Oxford University

Citations of this work

Relative priority.Lara Buchak - 2023 - Economics and Philosophy 39 (2):199-229.
The Welfare Diffusion Objection to Prioritarianism.Tomi Francis - 2024 - Economics and Philosophy 40 (1):55-76.
The Persistence of the Leveling Down Objection.Michael Weber - 2019 - Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics 12 (1):1-25.

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References found in this work

Equality or Priority?Derek Parfit - 2002 - In Matthew Clayton & Andrew Williams (eds.), The Ideal of Equality. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 81-125.
Persons, Interests, and Justice.Nils Holtug - 2010 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Equality, priority and person-affecting value.Ingmar Persson - 2001 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 4 (1):23-39.
Prioritarianism and the Levelling Down Objection.Thomas Porter - 2011 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 14 (2):197-206.

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