If You’re an Egalitarian, You Shouldn’t be so Rich

The Journal of Ethics 25 (3):323-337 (2021)
  Copy   BIBTEX


G.A. Cohen famously claims that egalitarians shouldn’t be so rich. If you possess excess income and there is little chance that the state will redistribute it to the poor, you are obligated to donate it yourself. We argue that this conclusion is correct, but that the case against the rich egalitarian is significantly stronger than the one Cohen offers. In particular, the standard arguments against donating one’s excess income face two critical, unrecognized problems. First, we show that these arguments imply that citizens have no duty to further egalitarian political institutions—a conclusion that Cohen’s Rawlsian opponents cannot abide. Second, these arguments yield unacceptable implications for other questions of justice. We conclude that even moderately rich egalitarians are obligated to donate their excess income.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 89,621

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

If You're an Egalitarian, How Come You're So Rich?G. A. Cohen - 2001 - Philosophical Quarterly 51 (205):563-565.
Unequivocal Justice.Christopher Freiman - 2017 - New York: Routledge.
Cohen, Nagel and the Rich Egalitarian.Keith Horton - 2002 - Australian Journal of Professional and Applied Ethics 4 (2).
Backing Away From Equality.Steven Wall - 2012 - Criminal Justice Ethics 31 (2):96-105.


Added to PP

101 (#156,115)

6 months
15 (#109,993)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author Profiles

Jason Brennan
Georgetown University
Christopher Freiman
College of William and Mary

Citations of this work

Wealth Without Limits: in Defense of Billionaires.Jessica Flanigan & Christopher Freiman - 2022 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 25 (5):755-775.

Add more citations

References found in this work

A Theory of Justice: Revised Edition.John Rawls - 1999 - Harvard University Press.
Political Liberalism.John Rawls - 1993 - Columbia University Press.
Justice as fairness: a restatement.John Rawls (ed.) - 2001 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Rescuing Justice and Equality.G. A. Cohen (ed.) - 2008 - Harvard University Press.

View all 21 references / Add more references