Against Luck Egalitarianism

Jordan Rogers


Luck Egalitarianism: “The core idea is that inequalities in the advantages that people enjoy are acceptable if they derive from the choices that people have voluntarily made, but that inequalities deriving from unchosen features of people’s circumstances are unjust” (Scheffler 5).

I. Against Luck Egalitarianism

Challenges to the existence of the Brute/Option Luck Distinction:

Challenges to the significance of the distinction:

A. Victims of Bad Option Luck

[Question 2]

[Question 1]

            B. Victims of Bad Brute Luck

            C. General Lack of Sufficient Intuitive Support

“The more common or intuitive view, I believe, is that the fairness or unfairness of differences in advantage resulting from, on the one hand, factors beyond people’s control and, on the other hand, people’s voluntary choices, is highly dependant on the prevailing social context and institutional setting” (Scheffler, 33).    (Philosophers and Athletes)

 “Envy’s thought is ‘I want what you have.’  It is hard to see how such wants can generate obligations on the part of the envied” (Anderson, 307). Dan: no-envy is the test for distributive equality, not the justification for it.

II. Toward some other sort of Egalitarianism

Anderson: democratic equality is a “relational theory of equality: it views equality as a social relationship” (313).  Democratic equality “locates unjust deficiencies in the social order rather than in people’s innate endowments” (336).

Anderson starts with the idea that people have equal moral worth, and the following lessons learned from luck egalitarianism (314):

Principle of interpersonal justification: “any consideration offered as a reason for a policy must serve to justify that policy when uttered by anyone to anyone else who participates in the economy as a worker or consumer” (Anderson, 322).

The result: (≈ Sen) guaranteed lifetime (unless you break the law) equality of (effective access to) basic capabilities necessary for participation as an equal in the social and political life of community.

Paternalism: [Question 2, again]

[Question 3]

Scheffler: The social and political deal of equality is not a distributive ideal, but rather “a moral ideal governing the relations in which people stand to one another” (21).

Both are clear that equality may have severe distributive implications (Anderson 313-4, Scheffler 22).  They challenge primarily the motivation for luck-egalitarian redistribution.

[Question 4]

[Question 5]

Scheffler on Rawls: