DRL facebook

Anderson, Elizabeth, and . What is the Point of Equality?

1999, Ethics 109(2): 287-337.

Comment: This article asks the question: 'What is the point of equality?'. It provides a really clear diagnosis of some of the problems facing luck egalitarianism and goes on to articulate a particular version of the capability approach. Anderson argues that individuals are entitled to whatever they need to escape or overcome oppressive social relationships and to the capabilities necessary to participate as an equal citizen in a democratic state.

Chambers, Clare, and Phil Parvin. Teach Yourself Political Philosophy: A Complete Introduction

2012, Hodder & Stoughton

Publisher’s Note: Written by Phil Parvin and Clare Chambers, who are current political philosophy lecturers and leading researchers, Political Philosophy – The Essentials is designed to give you everything you need to succeed, all in one place. It covers the key areas that students are expected to be confident in, outlining the basics in clear jargon-free English, and then providing added-value features like summaries of key thinkers, and even lists of questions you might be asked in your seminar or exam. The book’s structure follows that of most university courses on political philosophy, by looking at the essential concepts within political philosophy (freedom, equality, power, democracy, rights, the state, political obligation), and then looking at the ways in which political philosophers have used these fundamental concepts in order to tackle a range of normative political questions such as whether the state has a responsibility to alleviate inequalities, and what interest liberal and democratic states should take in the cultural or religious beliefs of citizens.

Comment: 'Phil Parvin and Clare Chambers have produced a state of the art textbook, which provides students with a comprehensive and bang up-to-date introduction to contemporary political philosophy. Topics are introduced in a clear and eminently readable fashion, using accessible real world examples whilst drawing on sophisticated scholarly literature. There is no comparable book which covers such a wide range of topics in such a student-friendly manner.' (Dr Daniel Butt, Lecturer in Political Theory, University of Bristol.) 'A lively, accessible and engaging read. Comprehensive and well organized, it provides an updated account of key concepts in contemporary political philosophy, and highlights their relevance to political life in the 21st century. A valuable book for anyone taking their first steps in the world of political philosophy, or anyone who seeks to understand the normative challenges faced by our society today.' (Dr Avia Pasternak, Lecturer in Political Theory, University of Essex.) 'Written in a clear and accessible style, it is an engaging introduction for those who are new to political philosophy and wish to think through some of its most important questions. In addition to offering outlines of key arguments, each chapter also contains a summary of main concepts, self-test questions, a wonderful selection of quotations and some attention-grabbing 'nuggets'' (Dr Zosia Stemplowska, University Lecturer in Political Theory, University of Oxford)

Gheaus, Anca, and . Hikers in Flip-Flops: Luck Egalitarianism, Democratic Equality and the Distribuenda of Justice

2016, Journal of Applied Philosophy 33(1): Early Online.

Abstract: The article has two aims. First, to show that a version of luck egalitarianism that includes relational goods amongst its distribuenda can, as a matter of internal logic, account for one of the core beliefs of relational egalitarianism. Therefore, there will be important extensional overlap, at the level of domestic justice, between luck egalitarianism and relational egalitarianism. This is an important consideration in assessing the merits of and relationship between the two rival views. Second, to provide some support for including relational goods, including those advocated by relational egalitarianism, on the distribuenda of justice and therefore to put in a good word for the overall plausibility of this conception of justice. I show why relational egalitarians, too, have reason to sympathise with this proposal.

Comment: Interesting contribution to the literature on distributive justice. Argues that luck egalitarianism can incorporate a key concern of relational egalitarians, i.e. egalitarian political relationships, as a particular good to be distibuted, thus narrowing the distinction between the views and making it less significant. Would make good further reading for anyone working on the debate between luck and relational egalitarians.

Stemplowska, Zofia, and . Rescuing Luck Egalitarianism

2013, Journal of Social Philosophy 44(4): 402-419.

Introduction: There was once a luck egalitarian school of thought, according to which disadvantage arising due to bad luck was unjust—at the bar of egalitarian justice—while disadvantage arising due to choice was just, at least if the choice was exercised against the background of equal options. “Choice” in this context needed to be “genuine choice”—which, for some, meant “voluntary,” and for others, also “freely willed”—but if it was genuine, then it did not matter whether it was a silly mistake or a considered course of action: if it led to disadvantage, its presence was deemed sufficient to justify leaving the agent to bear the disadvantage. Let’s call the view that choice leading to disadvantage is sufficient to justify the disadvantage, at least if choice was exercised against the background of equal options, the inflated view of choice. […] The inflated view was so crude that in the face of criticism pointing out its crudeness, its supporters have adopted more sophisticated views, and no recent luck egalitarian has defended the crude version. These more sophisticated views recognize that the mere fact that an outcome has been chosen does not make the outcome just—not even by the standards of egalitarian justice alone.

In what follows, I will argue that this dominant reading of early luck egalitarianism as committed to the inflated view is, at best, a one-sided interpretation of the iconic writings of the luck egalitarian literature advanced by its most famous proponents, namely Arneson, Cohen, and Dworkin. Their writings did not unambiguously point toward the inflated view; if the early texts were interpreted more charitably, we could have, perhaps, avoided associating luck egalitarianism with the inflated view, arriving immediately at the sophisticated versions of luck egalitarianism dominating the field today.

Comment: Defends luck egalitarianism in general, and the originators of the view in particular, from the common criticism that it is committed to the 'inflated view of choice' which generates unpalatable conclusions because it leaves people who have made choices to bear all the consequences of those choices. Would make good further reading for anyone working on this topic.