Title page for ETD etd-05262007-024827

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Klipfel, Kevin Michael
URN etd-05262007-024827
Title Luck Egalitarianism and Democratic Equality
Degree Master of Arts
Department Philosophy
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
May, Simon Committee Chair
Daskal, Steven J. Committee Member
FitzPatrick, William J. Committee Member
  • Egalitarianism
  • John Rawls
  • Elizabeth Anderson
  • Democratic Equality
Date of Defense 2007-05-11
Availability restricted
Luck egalitarianism is the view that justice requires that we hold people accountable for the choices that they make but not the circumstances that they find themselves in. My aim in this thesis is to reject luck egalitarianism. My argument builds on the recent critique of luck egalitarianism by Elizabeth Anderson. Anderson rejects luck egalitarianism in favor of a view she calls “democratic equality.” The aim of democratic equality is to create a community in which citizens relate to one another as equals. This requires, among other things, that we provide citizens with the necessary capabilities and functionings needed in order for them to function as free and equal citizens. In this thesis I argue that Anderson’s critique of luck egalitarianism, although successful against the standard luck egalitarian view, does not undermine a weaker version of luck egalitarianism. This position – which I call moderate luck egalitarianism – claims that we ought to apply the choice/circumstance distinction always and only when doing so does not compromise the aims of democratic equality. This is because it is always unfair, according to luck egalitarians, when some people are worse off than others through no fault of their own. Since Anderson’s view does not correct for this, we need to combine the aims of democratic equality and luck egalitarianism in the name of fairness. I argue, however, that this is not necessary. Not all inequalities that are the result of people’s unchosen circumstances are unfair or unjust; inequalities in income and wealth are unfair only to the extent that they inhibit the ability of individuals to function as free and equal citizens. Thus, luck egalitarians have given us no reason to conjoin the aims of democratic equality and luck egalitarianism: democratic equality suffices.
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