World Literature

Luck Egalitarianism: Equality, Responsibility, and Justice by Carl Knight

By Carl Knight

"Responsibility-sensitive" debts of distributive justice were a remarkable contemporary improvement in political conception, and good fortune egalitarianism has develop into the default place between such philosophers as Ronald Dworkin, G. A. Cohen, and Richard Arneson. This e-book outlines the main problems with success egalitarianism and considers either the positions of its proponents and its prime critics (Elizabeth Anderson, Susan Hurley, and Samuel Scheffler).

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39 Thomas Scanlon describes a subjective criterion of well-being as one according to which ‘the level of well-being enjoyed by a person in given material circumstances or the importance for that person of a given benefit or sacrifice is to be estimated by evaluating those material circumstances or that benefit or that sacrifice solely from the point of view of that person’s tastes and interests’ (Scanlon 1975, 656, emphasis added). On my understanding both equality of welfare and envy-test equality provide criteria that are subjective in this sense, but they interpret the italicized portion differently: equality of welfare takes the point of view of persons’ interests to be embodied in welfare, while envy-test equality takes persons’ interests to be embodied in their point of view (cf.

Dworkin’s move to the ex ante allows hypothetical individuals to trade circumstance insensitivity for a share of the spoils of circumstance sensitivity but this is to contradict the core ideas of egalitarianism. Second, Dworkin believes that any attempt to satisfy better the envy test with regard to natural talents has undesirable consequences. 88 If this result counts against high levels of compensation, it may have serious implications for equality of resources as I earlier described it. It may equally undermine certain otherwise attractive combinations of equality of resources and non-egalitarian considerations.

92 Finally, there is the possibility that, while the hypothetical insurance markets fail to equalize resources, they are the best we can hope to do in the difficult conditions of the real world. Will Kymlicka puts the case like this: If we cannot fully equalize real-world circumstances, then what else can we do to live up to our convictions about the arbitrariness of one’s place in the distribution of natural and social circumstances? 93 I hope to have shown that we can do more to redress these inequalities than Dworkin supposes.

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