Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 16 (1) (2019)
AbstractThis paper offers a novel account of how complaints of unfairness arise in risky distributive cases. According to a recently proposed view in distributive ethics, the Competing Claims View, an individual has a claim to a benefit when her well-being is at stake, and the strength of this claim is determined by the expected gain to the individual’s well-being, along with how worse off the individual is compared to others. If an individual is at a lower level of well-being than another, their claim to a given benefit is stronger. On this view, the strength of individuals’ claims are a function of their comparative well-being levels. In this paper, I instead argue that competing claims obtain only when a particular relationship obtains between the fates of individuals: that one individual’s gain is at the expense of another. This is a particular complaint that obtains when the fates of individuals are tied together in such a way that inequality that is to the detriment of the person who is worse off is guaranteed to obtain. I demonstrate that this complaint arises only when individuals are exposed to a particular type of risk that allows some to gain only if others lose. As such, I propose that complaints of unfairness occur less frequently than we might think if we take the Competing Claims View to be true. A purely comparative view is unable to account for this unique complaint of unfairness. I argue that this complaint is not only independently plausible, but can serve as a foundation for a more general account of competing claims complaints.
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Citations of this work
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References found in this work
Priority or Equality for Possible People?Alex Voorhoeve & Marc Fleurbaey - 2016 - Ethics 126 (4):929-954.
Equality Versus Priority.Michael Otsuka & Alex Voorhoeve - 2018 - In Serena Olsaretti (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Distributive Justice. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 65-85.
Decide As You Would With Full Information! An Argument Against Ex Ante Pareto.Marc Fleurbaey & Alex Voorhoeve - 2013 - In Ole Norheim, Samia Hurst, Nir Eyal & Dan Wikler (eds.), Inequalities in Health: Concepts, Measures, and Ethics. Oxford University Press.