Ethical Theory and Moral Practice

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 139–149

Equality of Opportunity and Other-Affecting Choice: Why Luck Egalitarianism Does Not Require Brute Luck Equality

Article

Abstract

The luck egalitarian view famously maintains that inequalities in individuals’ circumstances are unfair or unjust, whereas inequalities traceable to individuals’ own responsible choices are fair or just. On this basis, the distinction between so-called brute luck and option luck has been seen as central to luck egalitarianism. Luck egalitarianism is interpreted, by advocates and opponents alike, as a view that condemns inequalities in brute luck but permits inequalities in option luck. It is also thought to be expressed in terms of the view that no individual ought to be worse off other than because of a fault or choice of his or her own. I argue that these two characterizations of luck egalitarianism are not equivalent and that, properly understood, luck egalitarianism is compatible with widespread, potentially radical, inequalities in brute luck.

Keywords

Equality Egalitarianism Choice Brute luck Equal opportunity 

References

  1. Anderson E (1999) What is the point of equality? Ethics 102:287–337CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Cohen GA (1989) On the currency of egalitarian justice. Ethics 99:906–944CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Cohen GA (2006) Luck and equality: a reply to Hurley. Philos Phenomenol Res 72:439–446CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Dworkin R (1981) What is equality? Part 2: equality of resources. Philos Publ Aff 10:283–345Google Scholar
  5. Eyal N (2007) Egalitarian justice and innocent choice. J Ethics Soc Philos 2:1–18Google Scholar
  6. Hurley S (2003) Justice, luck, and knowledge. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  7. Lazenby H (2009) One kiss too many? Giving, luck egalitarianism, and other-affecting choice. The J Polit Philos 18:271–286Google Scholar
  8. Rakowski E (1991) Equal justice. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  9. Sandbu ME (2004) On Dworkin’s brute-luck-option-luck distinction and the consistency of brute-luck egalitarianism. Polit Philos Econ 3:283–312CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Temkin L (1993) Inequality. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  11. Vallentyne P (1997) Self-ownership and equality: brute luck, gifts, universal dominance, and leximin. Ethics 107:321–343CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Vallentyne P (2002) Brute luck, option luck, and equality of initial opportunities. Ethics 112:529–557CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Voigt K (2007) The harshness objection: is luck egalitarianism too harsh on the victims of bad option luck? Ethical Theory Moral Prac 10:389–407CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.New CollegeUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

Personalised recommendations