The Prospects for Sufficientarianism

Utilitas 24 (1):101-117 (2012)
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Abstract

Principles of sufficiency are widely discussed in debates about distributive ethics. However, critics have argued that sufficiency principles are vulnerable to important objections. This paper seeks to clarify the main claims of sufficiency principles and to examine whether they have something distinctive and plausible to offer. The paper argues that sufficiency principles must claim that we have weighty reasons to secure enough and that once enough is secured the nature of our reasons to secure further benefits shifts. Having characterized sufficientarianism in this way, the paper shows that the main objections to the view can be avoided; that we can examine the plausibility of sufficiency principles by appealing to certain reasons that support a shift; and that we should be optimistic about the prospects for sufficientarianism because many of our strongest reasons seem to be of this sort. This shift, I claim, is the overlooked grain of truth in sufficientarianism

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Liam Shields
University of Manchester

Citations of this work

Why Limitarianism?Ingrid Robeyns - 2022 - Journal of Political Philosophy 30 (2):249-270.
Sufficiency and the Threshold Question.Robert Huseby - 2020 - The Journal of Ethics 24 (2):207-223.
Relational Justice: Egalitarian and Sufficientarian.Andreas Bengtson & Lasse Nielsen - 2023 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 40 (5):900-918.

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References found in this work

A Theory of Justice: Revised Edition.John Rawls - 1999 - Harvard University Press.
Justice as fairness: a restatement.John Rawls (ed.) - 2001 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
What is the point of equality.Elizabeth Anderson - 1999 - Ethics 109 (2):287-337.
What is equality? Part 1: Equality of welfare.Ronald Dworkin - 1981 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 10 (3):185-246.

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