Chapter

Egalitarianism

Nils Holtug

in Persons, Interests, and Justice

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780199580170
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191722707 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199580170.003.0007
Egalitarianism

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In this chapter, the core of the egalitarian position is outlined. Minimally, to qualify as a (welfare) egalitarian, one must claim that an outcome in which everyone has an equal share of welfare is in one respect intrinsically (non‐instrumentally) better than an outcome in which individuals have unequal shares. Any principle that satisfies this condition satisfies the ‘Egalitarian Relational Claim’. Furthermore, egalitarianism is clarified in various other respects. Since egalitarianism satisfies the Egalitarian Relational Claim, it invites the Levelling Down Objection. According to the Levelling Down Objection, egalitarianism implausibly implies that we can improve an outcome in at least one respect, by making some individuals worse off and none better off. Various replies egalitarians might (and have) come up with are considered and rejected, including the claim that this objection relies on an implausible person‐affecting account of outcome value, and the claim that equality has conditional value only.

Keywords: equality; egalitarianism; value of equality; levelling down objection; person‐affecting principles; conditional egalitarianism

Chapter.  12793 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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