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If You're an Egalitarian, How Come You're so Rich


Many people, including many egalitarian political philosophers, professa belief in equality while enjoying high incomes of which they devotevery little to egalitarian purposes. The article critically examinesways of resolving the putative inconsistency in the stance of thesepeople, in particular, that favouring an egalitarian society has noimplications for behaviour in an unequal one; that what's bad aboutinequality is a social division that philanthropy cannot reduce; thatprivate action cannot ensure that others have good lives; that privateaction can only achieve a ``drop in the ocean''; that private effortis not called for, since justice is a matter for the state to enforce;that private effort cannot remove the fundamental injustice, whichis inequality of power; and that private effort involves an unreasonablylarge psychological burden.

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Cohen, G. If You're an Egalitarian, How Come You're so Rich. The Journal of Ethics 4, 1–26 (2000).

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  • egalitarianism
  • equality
  • justice
  • Marxism
  • weakness of will