Equality and responsibility: Towards a more critical union?

Chris Armstrong

in Rethinking Equality

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print June 2006 | ISBN: 9780719069246
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781701287 | DOI:
Equality and responsibility: Towards a more critical union?

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This chapter considers the role(s) that responsibility might play in egalitarian theory and politics. Luck egalitarianism has largely ignored the possibilities for theorising responsibility differently, against the grain of neoliberal discourse. This chapter explores the peculiarities and exclusions inherent in the neoliberal conception of responsibility and examines what a more critical theory of responsibility might look like. Any moralised account of responsibility is framed by the kind of ‘irresponsibility’ it seeks to discourage, and to a large extent the neoliberal and liberal luck egalitarian discourse on responsibility places an image of the work-shy, dependent, and non-autonomous citizen centre-stage. In opposition to this, the chapter employs the notion of ‘privileged irresponsibility’ that is more prevalent in feminist theory, and which relates to those who disconnect from, or deny, responsibilities to vulnerable others. As such, it examines three ways in which the notion of responsibility might operate differently in an account of egalitarian citizenship, which relate to economic life, ecological duties, and duties of care.

Keywords: responsibility; egalitarian theory; egalitarian politics; luck egalitarianism; privileged irresponsibility; egalitarian citizenship; economic life; ecological duties; duties of care

Chapter.  10048 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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