Kevin Dewan


Fleurbaey, ch. 1 and 2

ch. 1

1. simplifications

            -individuals have fixed characteristics

            -there is a clear distinction between responsibility characteristics and circumstances

            -individuals’ achievements can be measured by a one-dimensional index of well-being

            -well-being is fully determined by personal characteristics and the transfer of money

            -there is a given quantity of money that the government can distribute at will

            -the government has full knowledge of everyone’s characteristics

2. example 1.1: well-being = (bequest ± transfer) × dedication

            i. circumstance neutralization

            ii. the reward problem: how should transfers be sensitive to responsibility characteristics?

3. multidimensional goods and the no-envy test

            i. example 1.2: well-being = (transfer × dedication) + bequest

            ii. The no-envy test as an extension of the idea of equality to a multidimensional context (question #1: Stewart, Kelly)

            iii. the liberal reward principle and the compensation principle (question #2: Jordan)

4. compensation principle: “The general idea of compensation is that inequalities due to differential circumstances for which individuals are not responsible are illegitimate and should be suppressed” (25).

            i. equal well-being for equal responsibility: two individuals with identical responsibility characteristics should have the same level of well-being

            ii. Hurley on the “egalitarian fallacy”?

5. reward principle

            i. responsibility

            ii. neutrality

                        -equal treatment for equal circumstances: two individuals with identical circumstances should be submitted to the same transfer

                        -independence of responsibility characteristics: the allocation of money should be  independent of responsibility characteristics

ch. 2

6. conflicts between the compensation and liberal reward principles (question #3: Jeffrey)

            -example 1.2: well-being = (transfer × dedication) + bequest

            -example 1.4: well-being = transfer + (bequest × dedication)

Dedication interferes with the relative importance of bequest and transfers. The liberal reward principle demands that we ignore dedication, but the compensation principle demands that we pay attention to the effects of circumstances and transfers on well-being.

7. ways to resolve the conflict

            i. weaken the no-envy test

            ii. favor the liberal reward principle, while not totally abandoning the compensation principle (Conditional Equality)

            iii. favor the compensation principle, while not totally abandoning the liberal reward principle (Egalitarian Equivalence)

8. Conditional Equality

            “Define a reference value of responsibility characteristics and give priority (according to the leximin criterion) to individuals who, with their current resources and circumstances

            and this reference value of responsibility characteristics, would be the worst-off” (61)

            i. satisfies Independence of Responsibility Characteristics (and thus favors the liberal reward principle)

            ii. satisfies Equal Well-Being for Equal Responsibility restricted to those whose dedication correspond to the reference value

9. Egalitarian Equivalence (question #4: Gina, Wes)

            “Define a reference type of circumstances and give priority (leximin) to individuals whose current level of well-being would be obtained with the least resources if their circumstances were of the reference type (and their responsibility characteristics unchanged” (63)

            i. satisfies Equal Well-Being for Equal Responsibility (and thus favors the compensation principle)

            ii. satisfies Equal Treatment for Equal Circumstances restricted to those whose circumstances correspond to the reference value