The article has two aims. First, to show that a version of luck egalitarianism that includes relational goods amongst its distribuenda can, as a matter of internal logic, account for one of the core beliefs of relational egalitarianism. Therefore, there will be important extensional overlap, at the level of domestic justice, between luck egalitarianism and relational egalitarianism. This is an important consideration in assessing the merits of and relationship between the two rival views. Second, to provide (...) some support for including relational goods, including those advocated by relational egalitarianism, on the distribuenda of justice and therefore to put in a good word for the overall plausibility of this conception of justice. I show why relational egalitarians, too, have reason to sympathise with this proposal. (shrink)
Many philosophers believe that luck egalitarianism captures “desert-like” intuitions about justice. Some even think that luck egalitariansm distributes goods in accordance with desert. In this paper, we argue that this is wrong. Desertism conflicts with luck egalitarianism in three important contexts, and, in these contexts, desertism renders the proper moral judgment. First, compared to desertism, luck egalitarianism is sometimes too stingy: it fails to justly compensate people for their socially valuable contributions—when those contributions arose from “option luck”. (...) Second, luck egalitarianism is sometimes too restrictive: it fails to justly compensate people who make a social contribution when that contribution arose from “brute luck”. Third, luck egalitarianism is too limited in scope: it cannot diagnose economic injustice arising independently of comparative levels of justice. The lesson of this paper is that luck egalitarians should consider supplementing their theory with desert considerations. Or, even better, consider desertism as a superior alternative to their theory. (shrink)
This paper draws on Friedrich Nietzsche’s work to defend the (admittedly non-Nietzschean) conclusion that a non-liberal egalitarian society is superior in two ways: first, as a moral ideal, it does not rest on questionable claims about essential human equality and, second, such a society would provide the optimal psychological and political conditions for individual wellbeing, social stability, and cultural achievement. I first explain Nietzsche’s distinction between forms of egalitarianism: noble and slavish. The slavish form promotes equality, defined negatively as (...) the elimination of privilege. It is non-liberal in its prioritization of equality over the interests of the advantaged. Nietzsche rejects both slavish egalitarianism and liberalism for the same reasons: they questionably assume the equal value of all persons, and they harm cultural achievement, sacrificing the potential of those who are most valuable to cultural development to the interests of the majority. Noble egalitarianism, in contrast, exemplifies Nietzsche’s conception of justice as ‘equality among equals’. It demands that individuals of equal worth or power (such as members of an artistic or political elite) treat each other as what they, in fact, are: equals. It avoids asserting essential equality, demanding instead—against both slavish and liberal forms—respect on the basis of shared superiority. And it escapes the charge of harm to cultural development, commanding respect only where equality already exists. Although Nietzsche quickly assumes that ‘noble egalitarianism’ requires the rejection of all forms of universal egalitarianism, concluding that we should ‘never make equal what is unequal’, in fact it only entails the rejection of slavish methods: equalization through harm to the advantaged. However, non-liberal forms of egalitarianism can be ‘noble’, promoting equality without harm to the advantaged—through, for example, unequal distribution of resources, the equalization of economic opportunities, and economic regulation to prevent the creation of substantial wealth disparities. If egalitarianism can ‘make equal’ without slavish methods, then Nietzsche’s demand for ‘equality for equals’ applies to the newly equal, too. More importantly, his moral psychology of power—the view that our source of happiness and incentive to self-development is the feeling of power in relation to equal resistance or ‘opponents who are our equals’ —supports the superiority of a nobly-achieved, non-liberal egalitarian society. For achieved, practical equality of wealth and opportunity would optimize conditions for the feeling of power: a balance of equal, oppositional powers serving as mutual limitation and resistance. Such a society is superior in three ways. First, it maximizes social happiness by promoting and maintaining the feeling of power in all. Liberal and aristocratic societies, in contrast, allow radical inequalities that not only diminish the power of the disadvantaged, but diminish the opportunities of the advantaged to encounter equal resistance, thus undermining the happiness of all. Second, it promotes social stability by preserving a balance of powers that prevents domination and exploitation, in contrast to the inevitable class conflicts of aristocratic and liberal societies. Finally, it promotes cultural achievement, since the feeling of power in relation to proportional resistance is the psychological incentive for self-development and cultural achievement. (shrink)
Luck egalitarians argue that distributive justice should be understood in terms of our capacity to be responsible for our choices. Both proponents and critics assume that the theory must rely on a comprehensive conception of responsibility. I respond to luck egalitarianism’s critics by developing a political conception of responsibility that remains agnostic on the metaphysics of free choice. I construct this political conception by developing a novel reading of John Rawls’ distinction between the political and the comprehensive. A surprising (...) consequence is that many responsibility-based objections to luck egalitarianism turn out to be objections to Rawls’ political liberalism as well. (shrink)
The family of theories dubbed ‘luck egalitarianism’ represent an attempt to infuse egalitarian thinking with a concern for personal responsibility, arguing that inequalities are just when they result from, or the extent to which they result from, choice, but are unjust when they result from, or the extent to which they result from, luck. In this essay I argue that luck egalitarians should sometimes seek to limit inequalities, even when they have a fully choice-based pedigree (i.e., result only from (...) the choices of agents). I grant that the broad approach is correct but argue that the temporal standpoint from which we judge whether the person can be held responsible, or the extent to which they can be held responsible, should be radically altered. Instead of asking, as Standard (or Static) Luck Egalitarianism seems to, whether or not, or to what extent, a person was responsible for the choice at the time of choosing, and asking the question of responsibility only once, we should ask whether, or to what extent, they are responsible for the choice at the point at which we are seeking to discover whether, or to what extent, the inequality is just, and so the question of responsibility is not settled but constantly under review. Such an approach will differ from Standard Luck Egalitarianism only if responsibility for a choice is not set in stone—if responsibility can weaken then we should not see the boundary between luck and responsibility within a particular action as static. Drawing on Derek Parfit’s illuminating discussions of personal identity, and contemporary literature on moral responsibility, I suggest there are good reasons to think that responsibility can weaken—that we are not necessarily fully responsible for a choice for ever, even if we were fully responsible at the time of choosing. I call the variant of luck egalitarianism that recognises this shift in temporal standpoint and that responsibility can weaken Dynamic Luck Egalitarianism (DLE). In conclusion I offer a preliminary discussion of what kind of policies DLE would support. (shrink)
There are two intuitions about time. The first is that there's something special about the present that objectively differentiates it from the past and the future. Call this intuition Specialness. The second is that the time at which we happen to live is just one among many other times, all of which are ‘on a par’ when it comes to their forming part of reality. Call this other intuition Egalitarianism. Tradition has it that the so-called ‘A-theories of time’ fare (...) well at addressing the first intuition, but rather badly when it comes to the second. The goal of this article is to offer advice to A-theorists about how to reconcile their view with Egalitarianism. (shrink)
Mental-threshold egalitarianism, well-known examples of which include Jeff McMahan’s two-tiered account of the wrongness of killing and Tom Regan’s theory of animal rights, divides morally considerable beings into equals and unequals on the basis of their individual mental capacities. In this paper, I argue that the line that separates equals from unequals is unavoidably arbitrary and implausibly associates an insignificant difference in empirical reality with a momentous difference in moral status. In response to these objections, McMahan has proposed the (...) introduction of an intermediate moral status. I argue that this move ultimately fails to address the problem. I conclude that, if we are not prepared to give up moral equality, our full and equal moral status must be grounded in a binary property that is not a threshold property. I tentatively suggest that the capacity for phenomenal consciousness is such a property, and a plausible candidate. (shrink)
This paper considers issues raised by Elizabeth Anderson's recent critique of the position she terms luck egalitarianism. It is maintained that luck egalitarianism, once clarified and elaborated in certain regards, remains the strongest egalitarian stance. Anderson's arguments that luck egalitarians abandon both the negligent and prudent dependent caretakers fails to account for the moderate positions open to luck egalitarians and overemphasizes their commitment to unregulated market choices. The claim that luck egalitarianism insults citizens by redistributing on the (...) grounds of paternalistic beliefs, pity and envy, and by making intrusive and stigmatizing judgments of responsibility, fails accurately to characterize the luck egalitarians rationale for redistribution and relies upon luck egalitarians being insensitive to the danger of stigmatization. The luck egalitarian position is reinforced by the fact that Anderson's favoured conception of equality, democratic equality, is counterintuitively indifferent to all unchosen inequalities, including intergenerational inequalities, once bare social minima are met. (shrink)
This paper argues that egalitarian theories should be judged by the degree to which they meet four different challenges. Fundamentalist egalitarianism, which contends that certain inequalities are intrinsically bad or unjust regardless of their consequences, fails to meet these challenges. Building on discussions by T.M. Scanlon and David Miller, we argue that egalitarianism is better understood in terms of commitments to six egalitarian objectives. A consequence of our view, in contrast to Martin O'Neill's “non-intrinsic egalitarianism,“ is that (...)egalitarianism is better understood as a family of views than as a single ethical position. (shrink)
The luck egalitarian view famously maintains that inequalities in individuals’ circumstances are unfair or unjust, whereas inequalities traceable to individuals’ own responsible choices are fair or just. On this basis, the distinction between so-called brute luck and option luck has been seen as central to luck egalitarianism. Luck egalitarianism is interpreted, by advocates and opponents alike, as a view that condemns inequalities in brute luck but permits inequalities in option luck. It is also thought to be expressed in (...) terms of the view that no individual ought to be worse off other than because of a fault or choice of his or her own. I argue that these two characterizations of luck egalitarianism are not equivalent and that, properly understood, luck egalitarianism is compatible with widespread, potentially radical, inequalities in brute luck. (shrink)
Samuel Scheffler has recently argued that some relationships are non-instrumentally valuable; that such relationships give rise to “underived” special responsibilities; that there is a genuine tension between cosmopolitan egalitarianism and special responsibilities; and that we must consequently strike a balance between the two. We argue that there is no such tension and propose an alternative approach to the relation between cosmopolitan egalitarianism and special responsibilities. First, while some relationships are non-instrumentally valuable, no relationship is unconditionally valuable. Second, whether (...) such relationships give rise to special responsibilities is conditional on those relationships not violating certain moral constraints. Third, these moral constraints arise from within cosmopolitan egalitarianism itself. Thus the value of relationships and the special responsibilities to which they give rise arise within the parameters of cosmopolitan egalitarianism itself. The real tension is not between cosmopolitan equality and special responsibilities, but between special responsibilities and the various general duties that arise from the recognition, demanded by cosmopolitan egalitarianism, of a multiplicity of other basic goods. Indeed, even the recognition of special relationships itself gives rise to general duties that may condition and/or weigh against putative special responsibilities. (shrink)
Most philosophers discuss the Repugnant Conclusion as an objection to total utilitarianism. But this focus on total utilitarianism seems to be one-sided. It conceals the important fact that other competing moral theories are also subject to the Repugnant Conclusion. The primary aim of this paper is to demonstrate that versions of egalitarianism are subject to the Repugnant Conclusion and other repugnant conclusions.
Michael Blake’s excellent book 'Justice and Foreign Policy' makes an important contribution to the ongoing debates about the kinds of values that should inform the foreign policy of liberal states. In this paper I evaluate his defence of the view that egalitarianism applies within the state but not globally. I discuss two arguments he gives for this claim - one appealing to the material preconditions of democracy and the other grounded in a duty to justify coercive power. I argue (...) that neither argument succeeds. I then identify a general problem with his approach. If states adopted Blake’s principles for their foreign policy we would have a much better world than currently exists. But it would not – I submit - be a fair world. (shrink)
Kok-Chor Tan has recently defended a novel theory of egalitarian distributive justice, institutional luck egalitarianism (ILE). On this theory, it is unjust for institutions to favor some individuals over others based on matters of luck. Tan takes his theory to preserve the intuitive appeal of luck egalitarianism while avoiding what he regards as absurd implications that face other versions of luck egalitarianism. Despite the centrality of the concept of institutional influence to his theory, Tan never spells out (...) precisely what it means for an inequality to be produced by an institution. In this paper, I consider different conceptions of institutional influence that ILE might employ. It appears that however this concept is construed, ILE has serious problems. On some conceptions, the luck egalitarian character of the theory is undermined. On others, the theory gives rise to precisely the sorts of absurd implications facing other versions of luck egalitarianism that Tan takes his theory to avoid. (shrink)
In recent literature, there has been much debate about whether and how luck egalitarianism, given its focus on personal responsibility, can justify universal health care. In this paper we argue that, whether or not this is so, and in fact whether or not egalitarianism should be sensitive to responsibility at all, the question of personal responsibilization for health is not settled. This is the case because whether or not individuals are responsible for their own health condition is not (...) all that is relevant when considering whether we should somehow hold them responsible for their own health condition, e.g. cost-wise. There may also be efficiency-based reasons to hold them responsible, and there may even be egalitarian reasons. Defining universal health care as an insurance system where everyone’s deductible and premium is 0, we will argue that efficiency-based reasons for cost-responsibilization are not convincing, but that there are egalitarian reasons for cost-responsibilization. Luck egalitarianism, therefore, cannot, at least not on its own term, justify universal health care. (shrink)
Luck egalitarianism makes a fundamental distinction between inequalities for which agents are responsible and inequalities stemming from luck. I give several reasons to find luck egalitarianism a compelling view of distributive justice. I then argue that it is an incomplete theory of equality. Luck egalitarianism lacks the normative resources to achieve its ends. It is unable to specify the prior conditions under which persons are situated equivalently such that their choices can bear this tremendous weight. This means (...) that luck egalitarians need to become pluralists who understand equality not merely in terms of choice, luck, and responsibility. After developing my critical argument that luck egalitarianism is incomplete, I sketch a strategy for rehabilitating and filling out the theory. (shrink)
In "Torts, Egalitarianism and Distributive Justice" , Tsachi Keren-Paz presents impressingly detailed analysis that bolsters the case in favour of incremental tort law reform. However, although this book's greatest strength is the depth of analysis offered, at the same time supporters of radical law reform proposals may interpret the complexity of the solution that is offered as conclusive proof that tort law can only take adequate account of egalitarian aims at an unacceptably high cost.
The opponents of egalitarianism insist that distributional equality can never have intrinsic value, because it is hard to find how equal distribution could benefit people intrinsically. In this paper, we attempt to demystify the intrinsic value of distributional equality and suggest a possible direction of vindicating egalitarianism. First, we propose the principle that it is (epistemically) reasonable to regard x as an intrinsic value for a person S if S rationally desires x for its own sake. Second, we (...) argue by thought experiment that people can rationally desire equal distribution of certain goods for its own sake in certain circumstances. (shrink)
In this article, I appeal to the phenomenon of moral hazard in order to explain how at least some of the inequalities permitted by Luck Egalitarianism can be given an alternative, more plausible grounding than that which is supplied by Luck Egalitarianism. This alternative grounding robs Luck Egalitarianism of a potentially significant source of intuitive support whilst enabling conditional welfare policies to survive the attacks on them made by Elizabeth Anderson, Jonathan Wolff, and others.
This paper argues that Nietzsche’s anti-egalitarianism depends on equivocation between conceptions of power as quantitative superiority and qualitative feeling and between associated conceptions of equality as similarity and opposition or resistance . Nietzsche’s key arguments against equality fail when applied to the qualitative form of power, since the feeling of power does not directly correlate with quantitative ability and requires relatively equal or proportional resistance. Consequently, Nietzsche’s commitment to the promotion of humanity’s highest individuals does not entail the rejection (...) of moral egalitarianism in every form and even supports a pluralistic egalitarianism that promotes equality understood not as similarity but as multiple, proportional resistances. (shrink)
This brilliant and challenging book provides an overview and defence of 'luck egalitarianism', one that helpfully connects debates on luck egalitarianism to debates on what aspects of our lives egalitarians should try equalise (the 'equality of what?' debate/the debate on the 'metric' of equality) and on what respect, if any, it makes sense to see each other as equals. The book illuminates different conceptions of luck, as found in the philosophical literature, clarifies the difference between telic and deontic (...) equality, and explains the 'levelling down' problem and the way that this affects luck egalitarians, and egalitarians more generally. For these reasons, the book provides a handy introduction to a range of philosophical debates about equality amongst analytic philosophers, whether or not one is particularly interested in luck egalitarianism. However, this is not an easy book to read, and while it is advertised as suitable for advanced undergraduates, I find it hard to imagine using it in any undergraduate course I have taught in the United States, England, France or Switzerland. But this is definitely a book that masters and doctoral students should be able to read by themselves and that will be helpful for teachers preparing classes on luck egalitarianism or on equality more generally. (shrink)
Debates over egalitarianism for the most part are not concerned with constraints on achieving an egalitarian society, beyond discussions of the deficiencies of egalitarian theory itself. This paper looks beyond objections to egalitarianism as such and investigates the relevant psychological processes motivating people to resist various aspects of egalitarianism. I argue for two theses, one normative and one descriptive. The normative thesis holds that egalitarians must take psychological constraints into account when constructing egalitarian ideals. I draw from (...) non-ideal theories in political philosophy, which aim to construct moral goals with current social and political constraints in mind, to argue that human psychology must be part of a non-ideal theory of egalitarianism. The descriptive thesis holds that the most fundamental psychological challenge to egalitarian ideals comes from what are called Just World Beliefs. A troubling result of Just World Beliefs, one that poses a prima facie obstacle to egalitarianism, is that people tend to dismiss or explain away any threats to their belief that the world is fundamentally just. The pervasiveness and severity of Just World Beliefs predicts that people will be resistant to egalitarian policies. My aim is to show how research on Just World Beliefs can help diagnose common problems for egalitarianism and assist in making realistic recommendations for bringing current societies closer to egalitarian ideals. (shrink)
Some contractualist egalitarians try to accommodate a concern for numbers by embracing a pluralist strategy. They incorporate the belief that the number of people affected matters for what distribution one ought to bring about by arguing that their primary contractualist concern for justifiability to each may be outweighed by aggregative considerations. The present contribution offers two arguments against such a pluralist strategy. First, I argue that advo- cates of the pluralist strategy are forced to abandon the rationale behind the criterion (...) of universal acceptability. Second, I show that pluralist contractualists will be unable to avoid the dreaded conclusion that originally motivated their contractualism. Ultimately, these arguments matter for the nature of egalitarian- ism. They should give those in search of sound distributive principles a reason to make sense of their egalitarian commitment in a non-contractualist way. If a sound set of distributive principles includes comparative and relational princi- ples, while contractualist egalitarianism does not lend itself to being pluralistically combined with non-individualist principles, telic egalitarianism may after all be part of the truth in distributive ethics. (shrink)
Distributive egalitarians believe that distributive justice is to be explained by the idea of distributive equality (DE) and that DE is of intrinsic value. The socio-relational critique argues that distributive egalitarianism does not account for the “true” value of equality, which rather lies in the idea of “equality as a substantive social value” (ESV). This paper examines the socio-relational critique and argues that it fails because – contrary to what the critique presupposes –, first, ESV is not conceptually distinct (...) from DE, and second, the idea of ESV cannot serve as a “foundation” or “root” of distributive egalitarianism. (shrink)
The paper extends a result in Dutta and Ray's (1989) theory of constrained egalitarianism initiated by relying on the concept of proportionate rather than absolute equality. We apply this framework to redistributive systems in which what the individuals get depends on what they receive or pay qua members of generally overlapping groups. We solve the constrained equalization problem for this class of models. The paper ends up comparing our solution with the alternative solution based on the Shapley value, which (...) has been recommended in some distributive applications. (shrink)
The scarcity of livers available for transplants forces tough choices upon us. Lives for those not receiving a transplant are likely to be short. One large group of potential recipients needs a new liver because of alcohol consumption, while others suffer for reasons unrelated to their own behaviour. Should the former group receive lower priority when scarce livers are allocated? This discussion connects with one of the most pertinent issues in contemporary political philosophy; the role of personal responsibility in distributive (...) justice. One prominent theory of distributive justice, luck egalitarianism, assesses distributions as just if, and only if, people's relative positions reflect their exercises of responsibility. There is a principled luck egalitarian case for giving lower priority to those who are responsible for their need. Compared to the existing literature favouring such differentiation, luck egalitarianism provides a clearer rationale of fairness, acknowledges the need for individual assessments of responsibility, and requires initiatives both inside and outside of the allocation systems aimed at mitigating the influence from social circumstances. Furthermore, the concrete policies that luck egalitarians can recommend are neither too harsh on those who make imprudent choices nor excessively intrusive towards those whose exercises of responsibility are assessed. (shrink)
G. A. Cohen was one of the world's leading political theorists. He was noted, in particular, for his contributions to the literature of egalitarian justice. Cohen's classic writings offer one of the most influential responses to the currency of the egalitarian justice question - the question, that is, of whether egalitarians should seek to equalize welfare, resources, opportunity, or some other indicator of well-being. Underlying Cohen's argument is the intuition that the purpose of egalitarianism is to eliminate disadvantage for (...) which it is inappropriate to hold the person responsible. His argument therefore focuses on the appropriate role of considerations regarding responsibility in egalitarian judgment. This volume comprises chapters by major scholars addressing and responding both to Cohen's account of the currency of egalitarian justice and its practical implications and to Cohen's arguments regarding the appropriate form of justificatory arguments about justice. (shrink)
Pragmatist Egalitarianism argues that a deep impasse plagues philosophical egalitarianism. It sets forth a conception of equality rooted in American pragmatist thought--specifically William James, John Dewey, and Richard Rorty--that successfully mediates that impasse.
This paper argues that citizens have a basic right to invite family members and spouses into their society on the basis of Rawlsian egalitarian premises. This right is argued to be just as basic as other recognized basic rights, such as freedom of speech. The argument suggests further that we must treat immigration and family reunification, in particular, as central issues of domestic justice. The paper also examines the implications of these points for the importance of immigration in liberal domestic (...) justice and suggests avenues for further research on the interplay of considerations of justice towards citizens and non-citizens. (shrink)
Achieving social equality has been an important aim of modern democratic societies. Yet the process has engendered debate about the nature of equality and the consequences of its application. Why is equality valuable? What kind of equality should be aimed for? When is inequality justified? Should a principle of equality apply globally? The book assesses and links the different dimensions of equality and asks whether recent writing on the topic has the philosophical substance and political force traditionally associated with egalitarian (...) thought. (shrink)
Robert Sparrow (2014) argues that moral bioenhancement - the project of attempting to improving moral character via medical or biological means - ought to be of great concern to egalitarians. Importantly, Sparrow's argument is meant to apply regardless of whether such bioenhancement is likely to be successful. In this response, I argue against Sparrow's worries concerning successful moral bioenhancement. This response highlights that it may not be possible to separate moral questions of the permissibility of bioenhancement from scientific and conceptual (...) questions regarding its possibility. (shrink)
I review Shlomi Segall's book 'Why Inequality Matters'. I argue that it conclusively establishes that alongside egalitarians, prioritarians and sufficientarians must sometimes regard a prospect as better (in at least one respect) when it is not better (in terms of well-being) for anyone. Sufficientarians and prioritarians must therefore relinquish a treasured anti-egalitarian argument. It also makes a powerful case that among these three views, egalitarians are in the best position to explain such departures from what is in each person’s prudential (...) interest. For egalitarians can point to the natural idea that it is unfair when, due to pure chance, some fare much better than others. By contrast, it remains unclear what value, if any, sufficientarians or prioritarians can appeal to in order to justify their departures from what best promotes people’s well-being. (shrink)
Michael Blake claims that liberal principles ground egalitarian distribution domestically but not globally. This paper raises some worries about these claims. It challenges the argument for domestic distributive equality based on a concern for autonomy, noting that a broader concern for wellbeing is required. And it suggests that a concern for everyone’s autonomy and wellbeing supports the progressive pursuit of global distributive equality rather than only the pursuit of global sufficiency.
A partir de las críticas que el igualitarismo fraternal lanzó contra el igualitarismo de la suerte, G. A. Cohen propuso un compromiso a través del denominado modelo de campamento. Puesto que dicho trade-off no quedó formalizado, en este artículo se intenta aportar algunos elementos en tal dirección. En concreto, se argumenta: a) que Cohen tiende un primer puente hacia el igualitarismo fraternal al distinguir los aspectos de equidad y legitimidad en una concepción de lo justo, conjuntamente con la afirmación de (...) que la suerte en las opciones nunca preserva la justicia; b) que los principios igualitario y comunitario, que Cohen postula como deseables para el socialismo, operan sobre la base de la distinción equidad-legitimidad, de modo que las desigualdades generadas por elecciones genuinas y mala suerte en las opciones son justas en tanto resultan legítimas pero no son justas en términos de equidad y, en consecuencia, las desigualdades que rasgan el tejido social son causalmente fundamentales mientras que el principio comunitario es normativamente fundamental; y c) que los elementos comunitarios que impulsan el compromiso de Cohen ya están presentes en sus nociones de igualdad voluntaria, ethos igualitario, lectura estricta del Principio de Diferencia rawlsiano y comunidad justificatoria. (shrink)
A standard natural rights argument for libertarianism is based on the labor theory of property: the idea that I own my self and my labor, and so if I "mix" my own labor with something previously unowned or to which I have a have a right, I come to own the thing with which I have mixed by labor. This initially intuitively attractive idea is at the basis of the theories of property and the role of government of John Locke (...) and Robert Nozick. Locke saw and Nozick agreed that fairness to others requires a proviso: that I leave "enough and as good" for others. The same considerations apply to legitimate acquisition by voluntary exchange, gift, or bequeathal. -/- This sort of argument has been critiqued for the purely hypothetical and counterfactual nature of its premises, for the coherence of the idea of self-ownership, for the notion that mixing what I own with what I do not gives me a right in what I do not rather than wasting what I own, and for the unacceptably cruel and heartless consequences of adopting it, among other reasons. -/- However, I accept the premises and waive (though note) these objections, and formulate a new objection, showing that to give me a right in what I do not own, the labor theory of property requires a commitment to a right to what I need. I distinguish several senses of need and show that the sense of need the argument requires is "use need," the need I have to to use something to exercise my labor on it. This turns out to have a startling counter-intuitive result: the libertarian principle, so understood, turns out to be "to each according to his needs," which Marx identified as the principle of the highest phase of communism as he understood it. If communism is understood as in some sense egalitarian, this argument for libertarianism turns itself inside out into an argument for egalitarian communism. Libertarians therefore cannot use the Labor Theory of Property to defend the positions they typically wish to hold. (shrink)
My aim in this paper is to demonstrate that actual egalitarian social practices are unsustainable in most circumstances, thus diffusing Cohen’s conundrum by providing an ‘out’ for our rich egalitarian. I will also try to provide a balm for the troubles produced by continuing inequality, by showing how embracing a common conception of utopia can assist a society in its efforts towards establishing egalitarian practices. Doing so will first require an explanation of how giving, like any social practice, can be (...) thought of in terms of being externally suggested, internally willed, or some combination of the two. (shrink)
A common question asked among egalitarians involves the extent to which responsibility should play a deciding factor in assessing the acceptability of inequalities. So-called luck egalitarians agree that instances of genuine choice are decisive in attributing responsibility for disadvantage, and in justifying unequal distributions of social goods. In this exciting new contribution to this literature, the author explores the correct place to locate the cut between choice and chance. In doing so, he lays out a novel approach for identifying inequalities (...) for which it is fair to hold one responsible, and those for which it is not. The argument--which builds on a thread of intellectual history that runs through Marx and Mill into more contemporary thinkers like Cohen and Rawls--provides a compelling case for rejecting a highly influential theory of strong property rights that has been inherited from Locke, and which we find in contemporary defenses of strong entitlements such as Robert Nozick's. The result is an egalitarian position which treats responsibility seriously, while maintaining our liberal commitments to impartiality and non-arbitrariness in the distribution of rights and responsibilities in contemporary society. (shrink)
This paper uses the exploration of the grounds of a common criticism of luck egalitarianism to try and make an argument about both the proper subject of theorizing about justice and how to approach that subject. It draws a distinction between what it calls basic structure views and a priori baseline views, where the former take the institutional aspects of political prescriptions seriously and the latter do not. It argues that objections to luck egalitarianism on the grounds of (...) its harshness can in part be explained by this blindness to relevant features of institutions. Further, it may be that luck egalitarianism cannot regard its own enactment as just. A related objection to Ronald Dworkin's equality of resources, which claims that it cannot pick a particular institutional background to set the costs of resources and so is radically indeterminate, is also presented. These results, I argue, give us good reason to reject all a priori baseline views. (shrink)
This article attacks the view that global justice should be understood in terms of a global principle of equality. The principle mainly discussed is global equality of opportunity – the idea that people of similar talent and motivation should have equivalent opportunity sets no matter to which society they belong. I argue first that in a culturally plural world we have no neutral way of measuring opportunity sets. I then suggest that the most commonly offered defences of global egalitarianism (...) – the cosmopolitan claim that human lives have equal value, the argument that a persons nationality is a morally arbitrary characteristic, and the more empirical claim that relationships among fellow-nationals are no longer special in a way that matters for justice – are all defective. If we fall back on the idea of equality as a default principle, then we have to recognize that pursuing global equality of opportunity systematically would leave no space for national self-determination. Finally, I ask whether global inequality might be objectionable for reasons independent of justice, and argue that the main reason for concern is the inequalities of power that are likely to emerge in a radically unequal world. (shrink)