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Equality, Envy, and the Sense of Injustice

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Abstract:

This paper attempts to defend the value of equality against the accusation that it is an expression of irrational and disreputable feelings of envy of those who are better off. It draws on Rawls’ account of the sense of justice to suggest that resentment of inequalities may be a proper resentment of injustice. The case of resentment of ‘free riders’ is taken as one plausible example of a justified resentment of those who benefit unfairly from a scheme of cooperation. Further examples then link the case of the free rider to other cases of unjust inequalities which are the appropriate objects of resentment and indignation.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1468-5930.00203

Affiliations: University of Kent at Canterbury, UK

Publication date: January 1, 2002

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