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The ideal of equality: Luck egalitarianism and its critics.

Armitage, Faith (2007) The ideal of equality: Luck egalitarianism and its critics. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (United Kingdom).

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Abstract

Luck egalitarianism is an influential theory of justice that holds that arbitrary distributions of native abilities and social circumstances produce objectionable inequalities between persons, but responsible choices excuse some inequalities. It has recently been strongly criticised by self-described egalitarians. At the same time, however, mutual engagement between feminists and luck egalitarians has been minimal, in contrast to Rawlsian and feminist debates about the application of his theory to gender injustice. My research has two interrelated aims: (1) to contribute to the mainstream critical evaluation of luck egalitarianism by (2) developing an analysis that focuses on the implicit feminist content in those critiques. Luck egalitarians offer different versions of the theory, but these are underpinned by commonalities, including the aim to make distributions reflect agents' responsible choices; the presupposing of particular institutions; and an individualistic ontology that misrepresents the social causes of inequality. The heavy significance luck egalitarianism attaches to choice effectively licenses the traditional sexual division of labour since many agents continue to make choices, in accordance with prevailing social norms, which reproduce it. Respect and recognition are goods that luck egalitarianism requires some individuals to forfeit in exchange for material aid. This trade-off is unacceptable, highlighting the need for a satisfactory egalitarianism to be pluralistic in its understanding of human goods. Luck egalitarianism is compatible with the political marginalisation of certain social groups due to its emphasis on equality as an ideal about distributions, rather than relations between citizens. The need for egalitarianism to be sensitive to inequalities in multiple domains, not just the material, is underlined. Rival theories to luck egalitarianism invoke people's basic needs and citizens' obligations to one another as alternative bases for determining fair distributions. These more complex accounts of social justice engage the full array of human concerns to which egalitarianism traditionally responds.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Philosophy
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/2718

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