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Defending Luck Egalitarianism

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This article defends luck egalitarianism as an interpretation of the egalitarian ideal against two major criticisms levelled against it by Elizabeth Anderson — that it is trapped in the distributive paradigm, and that it treats the victims of bad option luck too harshly to be considered an egalitarian theory. Against the first criticism, I argue that luck egalitarianism will condemn non-material inequalities and injustices if an appropriate conception of well-being is adopted. I demonstrate this by showing how the approach is sensitive to the five faces of oppression developed by Iris Young. Although the second criticism is more troubling, it does not defeat luck egalitarianism, either. I will show that few of the inequalities that arise in the real world result from option luck. Further, if cases do occur, rather than abandoning the theory, the best response is to combine luck egalitarianism with another egalitarian principle that will ensure that the basic needs of all citizens are satisfied. The paper concludes by defending the appeal of the distinction between option luck and brute luck, in light of the preceding discussion.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2006


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