Relational Egalitarianism, Paternalism, Adults and Children: A Puzzle

Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 9 (2022)
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Relational egalitarianism is a theory of justice according to which people must relate as equals. However, not just any inegalitarian relation is unjust, i.e., the fact that parents do not relate as equals to their children is not unjust. Whereas an adult treating another adult paternalistically is objectionable from the point of view of relational egalitarianism, parent-child paternalism is not. What may explain this difference in judgment? I refer to this as the Puzzle. I discuss four justifications of the Puzzle and argue that none of them is satisfactory. In the final part of the paper, I discuss where this leaves relational egalitarianism as a theory of justice.



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Andreas Bengtson
Aarhus University

References found in this work

Love as valuing a relationship.Niko Kolodny - 2003 - Philosophical Review 112 (2):135-189.
What is Egalitarianism?Samuel Scheffler - 2003 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 31 (1):5-39.
Respect and the Basis of Equality.Ian Carter - 2011 - Ethics 121 (3):538-571.
Paternalism, Respect and the Will.Daniel Groll - 2012 - Ethics 122 (4):692-720.

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