Risk and the Unfairness of Some Being Better Off at the Expense of Others

Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 16 (1) (2019)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

This 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.

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 74,429

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Priority and Desert.Matthew Rendall - 2013 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 16 (5):939-951.
Aggregation, Complaints, and Risk.Joe Horton - 2017 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 45 (1):54-81.
Fairness in Life and Death Cases.Gerald Lang - 2005 - Erkenntnis 62 (3):321-351.
Environmentalism, Fairness, and Public Reasons.Mathew Humphrey - 2008 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 11 (2):177-192.
Justice as Fairness: Luck Egalitarian, Not Rawlsian.Michael Otsuka - 2010 - The Journal of Ethics 14 (3-4):217-230.
Critical Notice of Larry S. Temkin Inequality.Dennis McKerlie - 1995 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 25 (4):623-636.

Analytics

Added to PP
2019-09-27

Downloads
27 (#427,786)

6 months
5 (#143,702)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Thomas Rowe
King's College London

Citations of this work

Equality or Priority About Competing Claims?Shlomi Segall - 2022 - Economics and Philosophy 38 (2):242-265.
Integrated Moral Agency and the Practical Phenomenon of Moral Diversity.Michael Moehler - 2021 - Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics 14 (2):53-77.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Contractualism and Social Risk.Johann Frick - 2015 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 43 (3):175-223.
Another Defence of the Priority View.Derek Parfit - 2012 - Utilitas 24 (3):399-440.
Equality Versus Priority.Michael Otsuka & Alex Voorhoeve - 2018 - In Serena Olsaretti (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Distributive Justice. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 65-85.

View all 22 references / Add more references