The Journal of Ethics

, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp 225–247 | Cite as

Egalitarianism and Responsibility

  • Richard J. Arneson


This essay examines several possible rationales for the egalitarian judgment that justice requires better-off individuals to help those who are worse off even in the absence of social interaction. These rationales include equality (everyone should enjoy the same level of benefits), moral meritocracy (each should get benefits according to her responsibility or deservingness), the threshold of sufficiency (each should be assured a minimally decent quality of life), prioritarianism (a function of benefits to individuals should be maximized that gives priority to the worse off), and mixed views. A case is made for adopting either prioritarianism or a mixed view that gives priority both to the worse off and to the more responsible and deserving.

desert equality prioritarianism responsibility 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard J. Arneson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of CaliforniaSan Diego, La JollaUSA

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