Chapter

Prioritarianism

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/9780199580170.003.0008
Prioritarianism

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According to prioritarianism, outcome value is an additive function of weighted individual welfare, where increases in welfare are weighted such that they gain a greater moral value, the worse off the individual is to whom they accrue. This view differs from egalitarianism in that it does not take equality to have intrinsic value. Various objections to prioritarianism are considered, including the claim that (a) the Levelling Down Objection does not serve to distinguish prioritarianism from egalitarianism, (b) prioritarianism is itself vulnerable to the person‐affecting idea that motivates the Levelling Down Objection, (c) prioritarianism fails to account for some firmly held intuitions about relational justice and (d) prioritarianism does not appropriately reflect the virtue on which it is based, namely that of compassion. It is argued that none of these objections is convincing and that prioritarianism remains a plausible theory of justice.

Keywords: prioritarianism; levelling down objection; person‐affecting values; relational justice; leximin; sufficientarianism; aggregation; moral standing

Chapter.  17490 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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