Critiquing compassion-based social relations

Steven R. Smith

in Equality and diversity

Published by Policy Press

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9781847426079
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447302209 | DOI:
Critiquing compassion-based social relations

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This chapter explores the phenomenon of ‘luck’ as it concerns debates within Anglo-American political philosophy. It critically evaluates what compassion or pity for those who experienced ‘bad luck’ might mean. Developing the themes from Chapters Three, Two and One, this chapter argues that persons understood as agents have the capacity to turn bad luck into a ‘valued object’, given that bad experiences can be positively included into a person' life. Recognising this capacity means that not only the assumptions and ability for imagining the life of others are limited as explored in the previous chapter, but also the feelings for the suffering other are often misplaced and unnecessary as explored in this chapter. Among the discussed topics in this chapter are: choice, responsibility and luck in egalitarian theory; the role of compassion and pity in theories of redistributive justice; liberal egalitarian teleology and well-being; and luck, agency, separate persons and justice as reciprocity.

Keywords: luck; compassion; pity; bad luck; valued object; bad experiences; choice; responsibility; redistributive justice; justice as reciprocity

Chapter.  11371 words. 

Subjects: Social Stratification, Inequality, and Mobility

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