Equality of Resources and the Problem of Recognition
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- Hansen, R.S. Res Publica (2011) 17: 157. doi:10.1007/s11158-011-9146-2
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Liberal egalitarianism is commonly criticized for being insufficiently sensitive to status inequalities and the effects of misrecognition. I examine this criticism as it applies to Ronald Dworkin’s ‘equality of resources’ and argue that, in fact, liberal egalitarians possess the resources to deal effectively with recognition-type issues. More precisely, while conceding that the distributive principles required to realize equality of resources must apply against a particular institutional background, I point out, following Dworkin, that among the principles guiding this background is a ‘principle of independence,’ and that this principle, properly interpreted, requires government to protect people against the disadvantageous effects of wrongful prejudicial discrimination. Moreover, I give an account of wrongful prejudice which is grounded in a particular interpretation of the abstract egalitarian principle Dworkin requires for a government to be legitimate and which goes a long way toward acknowledging status inequalities. Finally, I suggest other resources within the theory for responding to residual problems of recognition not addressed by the principle of independence.