Luck, Equality, and Social StatutesNicholas Barry
Old Quad Moot Court Room
Abstract: The contemporary philosophical debate over egalitarianism is dominated by two rival theories, luck egalitarianism and social equality. The aim of this paper is to explore which of these theories best captures the ideal of egalitarian justice. The first section of the paper examines the social egalitarian critique of luck egalitarianism. It argues that although luck egalitarianism is a more nuanced approach to egalitarian justice than its social egalitarian critics suggest, it cannot entirely escape a number of the major social egalitarian objections levelled against it. The second section of the paper focuses on the social egalitarian interpretation of the egalitarian ideal. It highlights major problems with social egalitarianism as an alternative, stand-alone theory, arguing that it does not provide the foundation for satisfactory principles of distributive justice. The third section of the paper argues that luck egalitarianism and social egalitarianism both capture important dimensions of the egalitarian ideal and it demonstrates how they can be combined into a compelling theory of egalitarian justice.
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