What’s So Egalitarian About Luck Egalitarianism?

Ratio 28 (3):349-368 (2015)
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Luck egalitarians typically hold that it is bad for some to be worse off than others through no fault or choice of their own. In this paper I want to address two complaints against standard luck egalitarianism that do not question responsibility-sensitivity. The first objection says that equality itself lacks inherent non-instrumental value, and so the luckist component ought to be attached to a different pattern, say prioritarianism. The second objection also endorses luckism but worries that luck egalitarianism as conventionally formulated is committed in fact to neutralizing not just brute luck but also option luck. And this would mean, among other things, compensating unsuccessful gamblers, which is something many egalitarians find counterintuitive. My aim is to show that there is a way for luck egalitarianism to meet both criticisms; that it can maintain its egalitarian credentials while avoiding the counterintuitive consequences of compensating unsuccessful gamblers. To do so, I propose, we ought to understand luck egalitarianism as resting on the disvalue of being arbitrarily worse off compared to others. In addition, I suggest, the badness of luck egalitarian inequality – that of arbitrary disadvantage – has both an inter-personal and an intra-personal dimension



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