Beyond Sufficiency: G.A. Cohen's Community Constraint on Luck Egalitarianism

Kritike 12 (1):215-232 (2018)
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Abstract

G. A. Cohen conceptualizes socialism as luck egalitarianism constrained by a community principle. The latter mitigates certain inequalities to achieve a shared common life. This article explores the plausibility of the community constraint on inequality in light of two related problems. First, if it is voluntary, it fails as a response to “the abandonment objection” to luck egalitarianism, as it would not guarantee imprudent people sufficient resources to avoid deprivation and to function as equal citizens in a democratic society. Contra Cohenite socialism, this appears unjust. Second, if it is instead enforced, coercive equalization beyond sufficiency-constrained luck egalitarianism, which is possibly necessary to achieve a shared common life, seems to require unjustified restrictions on liberty. I therefore argue that the constraint is most plausibly specified as requiring enforcement of sufficiency and only voluntary equalization thereafter. I also note, skeptically, why this constraint might be morally preferable to a purely sufficientarian alternative.

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Benjamin D. King
Rangsit University

References found in this work

What is the point of equality.Elizabeth Anderson - 1999 - Ethics 109 (2):287-337.
What is equality? Part 2: Equality of resources.Ronald Dworkin - 1981 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 10 (4):283 - 345.
Why Not Socialism?Gerald Allan Cohen - 2009 - Princeton University Press.
What is Egalitarianism?Samuel Scheffler - 2003 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 31 (1):5-39.
Equality or Priority?Derek Parfit - 2002 - In Matthew Clayton & Andrew Williams (eds.), The Ideal of Equality. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 81-125.

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