Chapter

An Assessment of Egalitarianism

Henry Phelps Brown

in Egalitarianism and the Generation of Inequality

Published in print November 1988 | ISBN: 9780198286486
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191596773 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0198286481.003.0019
 An Assessment of Egalitarianism

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The discussion in this book has shown that egalitarians have two major faults to find in contemporary society––and for that matter, in most developed societies at all times and places: they hold that the distribution of this world's goods is unjust, and they are shocked by the contrast between the equal dignity of all human beings and their unequal resources. Corresponding to these two faults are two remedies: for the first, equality of treatment and of opportunity; and for the second, equality of consideration. The issue of justice arises in cases of requited transfers (for instance when a person supplies a service or a product to someone else, or to the community at large, and receives a payment or reward in exchange); the issue of equal consideration arises when transfers are unrequited (when the traffic flows one way only). The first issue, that leading to equality of treatment and opportunity, is discussed in sections one to three of this chapter; the second, leading to equality of consideration, is discussed in the fourth section. A final section sets out the egalitarian measures that emerge from this discussion as constructive.

Keywords: assessment; consideration; egalitarianism; equality; income distribution; opportunity; requited transfers; society; treatment; unrequited transfers; wealth distribution

Chapter.  13936 words. 

Subjects: Public Economics

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