I Will If You Will: Leveraged Enhancements and Distributive Justice*

David Estlund

in Partiality and Impartiality

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780199579952
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595233 | DOI:
I Will If You Will: Leveraged Enhancements and Distributive Justice*

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Economic equality can easily seem to depend on participants caring more for impartial values such as distributive justice than they are morally required to do. A liberal morality in which partial concerns for the interests of oneself or loved ones are given some scope might seem to permit people to refrain from doing what is impartially best unless they are compensated. The compensation would cancel the prerogative, but would often produce inequality, since the compensated costs are not just the agent's but often others she is close to or cares about. If, instead of reducing the agent's burden with compensation, society enhances the impartial value of the proposed work, her option to refrain might still be cancelled, but this time without producing any inequality. This idea of ‘leveraged enhancement’ has important normative consequences both for personal morality and for the design of social institutions with an eye to distributive justice.

Keywords: equality; partiality; impartiality; inequality; prerogatives

Chapter.  8472 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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