When bad things happen to good people: Luck egalitarianism and costly rescues

Politics, Philosophy and Economics 16 (1):93-112 (2017)


According to luck egalitarianism, it is not unfair when people are disadvantaged by choices they are responsible for. This implies that those who are disadvantaged by choices that prevent disadvantage to others are not eligible for compensation. This is counterintuitive. We argue that the problem such cases pose for luck egalitarianism reveals an important distinction between responsibility for creating disadvantage and responsibility for distributing disadvantage which has hitherto been overlooked. We develop and defend a version of luck egalitarianism which only holds people responsible for creating disadvantage. This revision enables luck egalitarianism to offer compensation to those who are disadvantaged by preventing disadvantage to others, like dependent caretakers, without compromising the responsibility–sensitivity at the heart of luck egalitarianism.

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Andreas Albertsen
Aarhus University

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