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The Prospects for Sufficientarianism

Utilitas 24 (1):101-117 (2012)

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  1. Genug Ist Genug? Zur Kritik Non-Egalitaristischer Konzeptionen der Bildungsgerechtigkeit.Johannes Drerup - 2015 - Zeitschrift Für Praktische Philosophie 2 (1):89-128.
    Vertreter non-egalitaristischer Konzeptionen der Bildungsgerechtigkeit ersetzen das klassische egalitaristische Votum für Gleichheit als intrinsischen Wert durch die Begründung von Schwellenkonzeptionen, die über Adäquatheits- und Suffizienzbedingungen angeben sollen, was als Kriterium für die Identifikation illegitimer Bildungsungleichheiten zu gelten hat und was nicht. Alle Ungleichheiten oberhalb einer fixierten Schwelle sind aus non-egalitaristischer Sicht normativ nicht von Belang. Dieser Fokus auf Mindestbedingungen, die gegeben sein müssen, damit Akteure in liberal-demokratischen Gesellschaften politisch partizipieren und ein gedeihliches Leben führen können, steht nicht nur in einem (...)
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  • Why Sufficientarianism is Not Indifferent to Taxation.Philipp Kanschik - 2015 - Kriterion - Journal of Philosophy 29 (2):81-102.
    The indifference objection is one of the most powerful objections to sufficientarianism. Critics argue that sufficientarianism is objectionably indifferent to the distribution of benefits and burdens. This article focuses on the criticism of the latter, particularly the claim that sufficientarianism is indifferent to taxation. Contrary to this allegation, it is argued that sufficientarianism warrants progressive taxation, the reason being that even those who are sufficiently well off face the risk of being pushed below sufficiency. This risk decreases the better off (...)
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  • Labour Commodification and Global Justice.Fausto Corvino - 2019 - Kriterion - Journal of Philosophy 33 (1):53-88.
    In this article, I maintain that the social process of labour commodification, through which the individual capability to uphold a decent welfare is bound to participation in the labour market, poses a problem of justice from the republican prospective on freedom as non-domination. I first discuss the reasons we might hold that capitalism brings a form of systemic domination by virtue of one of its intrinsic features: unequal access to the means of production. Then, I argue for a minimum de-commodification (...)
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  • Moral Uncertainty and Distributive Sufficiency.Michael Bukoski - 2021 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 24 (4):949-963.
    According to the sufficiency principle, distributive justice requires that everyone have some sufficient level of resources or well-being, but inequalities above this threshold have no moral significance. This paper defends a version of the sufficiency principle as the appropriate response to moral uncertainty about distributive justice. Assuming that the appropriate response to moral uncertainty is to maximize expected choiceworthiness, and given a reasonable distribution of credence in some familiar views about distributive justice, a version of the sufficiency principle strikes the (...)
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  • The Indispensability of Sufficientarianism.Anders Herlitz - 2019 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 22 (7):929-942.
    In this paper, I argue that sufficientarian principles are indispensable in the set of principles that have bearing on issues in distributive ethics. I provide two arguments in favor of this claim. First, I argue that sufficientarianism is the only framework that allows us to appropriately analyze what sort of obligations we have toward individuals who are badly off due to their own faults and choices. Second, I argue that sufficientarianism is the only theory that provides an adequate framework for (...)
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  • How Much Economic Inequality is Fair in Liberal Democracies? The Approach of Proportional Justice.Nunzio Alì & Luigi Caranti - 2021 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 47 (7):769-788.
    The article argues that the possibility of an unlimited gap in income and wealth between the top and bottom segments of society is incompatible with a democratic commitment to political equality. T...
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  • Sufficiency and the Threshold Question.Robert Huseby - 2020 - The Journal of Ethics 24 (2):207-223.
    In this paper I address the objection to sufficientarianism posed by Paula Casal and Richard Arneson, that it is hard to conceive of a sufficiency threshold such that distribution is highly important just below it, and not required at all just above it. In order to address this objection, I elaborate on the idea that sufficientarianism structurally can be seen to require two separate thresholds, which may or may not overlap. I then argue that a version of such a view (...)
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  • Provisional Sufficientarianism: Distributive Feasibility in Non-ideal Theory.Brian Carey - 2020 - Journal of Value Inquiry 54 (4):589-606.
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  • Assessing Non-Intrinsic Limitarianism.Alexandru Volacu & Adelin Costin Dumitru - 2019 - Philosophia 47 (1):249-264.
    In this paper we aim to examine a novel view on distributive justice, i.e. limitarianism, which claims that it is morally impermissible to be rich. Our main goal is to assess the two arguments provided by Ingrid Robeyns in favour of limitarianism, namely the democratic argument and the argument from unmet urgent needs and the two distinct limitarian views which these arguments give rise to. We claim that strong limitarianism, which is supported by the democratic argument, should be rejected as (...)
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  • Adequacy in Education and Normative School Choice.Adelin Dumitru - 2018 - Studies in Philosophy and Education 37 (2):123-146.
    In this paper I make a contribution to three distinct, but deeply interwoven subjects. Firstly, I argue that, at the level of ideal theory, the distribution of educational goods should follow a sufficientarian pattern and that the evaluative space of children’s advantage should be inspired by the capability approach. Secondly, the paper is delving into the more policy-oriented debates on the desirability of school choice. I argue that, given the non-ideal circumstances in which decision makers have to act, giving parents (...)
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  • The Discontent of Social and Economic Rights.Leticia Morales - 2018 - Res Publica 24 (2):257-272.
    One major objection to social rights is a failure of determining which precise social and economic claims should be granted rights status. The social rights debate has grappled with this ‘indeterminacy problem’ for quite some time, and a number of proposals have emerged aimed at fixing the content of these rights. In what follows I examine three distinct approaches to fleshing out the idea of a minimum threshold: social rights as the fulfilment of basic needs, social rights as the securing (...)
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  • Egalitarians, Sufficientarians, and Mathematicians: A Critical Notice of Harry Frankfurt’s On Inequality.David Rondel - 2016 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 46 (2):145-162.
    This critical notice provides an overview of Harry Frankfurt’s On Inequality and assesses whether Frankfurt is right to argue that equality is merely formal and empty. I counter-argue that egalitarianism, properly tweaked and circumscribed, can be defended against Frankfurt’s repudiation. After surveying the main arguments in Frankfurt’s book, I argue that whatever plausibility the ‘doctrine of sufficiency’ defended by Frankfurt may have, it does not strike a fatal blow against egalitarianism. There is nothing in egalitarianism that forbids acceptance of the (...)
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  • Thresholds and Limits in Theories of Distributive Justice.Dick Timmer - 2021 - Dissertation, Utrecht University
    Despite the prominence of thresholds and limits in theories of distributive justice, there is no general account of their role within such theories. This has allowed an ongoing lack of clarity and misunderstanding around threshold views in distributive justice. In this thesis, I develop an account of the conceptual structure of such views. Such an account helps understand and characterize threshold views, can subsume what may seem to be different debates about such views under one conceptual header, and can be (...)
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  • Relational Sufficientarianism and Frankfurt’s Objections to Equality.Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen - 2020 - The Journal of Ethics 25 (1):81-106.
    This article presents two rejoinders to Frankfurt’s arguments against egalitarianism. In developing the first, I introduce a novel relational view of justice: relational sufficiency. This is the view that justice requires us to relate to one another as people with sufficient, but not necessarily equal, standing. I argue that if Frankfurt’s objections to distributive equality are sound, so are analogous objections to relational equality. However, in a range of cases involving comparative justice we should be relational egalitarians, not relational sufficientarians, (...)
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  • Distributive Sufficiency, Inequality-Blindness and Disrespectful Treatment.Vincent Harting - forthcoming - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy:1-12.
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  • Paternalism and Evaluative Shift.Ben Davies - 2017 - Moral Philosophy and Politics 4 (2).
    Many people feel that respecting a person’s autonomy is not sufficiently important to obligate us to stay out of their affairs in all cases; but the ground for interference may often turn out to be a hunch that the agent cannot really be competent, or cannot really know what her decision implies; for if she were both of these things, surely she would not make such a foolish decision. This paper suggests a justification of paternalism that does not rely on (...)
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  • Three Types of Sufficientarian Libertarianism.Fabian Wendt - 2019 - Res Publica 25 (3):301-318.
    Sufficientarian libertarianism is a theory of justice that combines libertarianism’s focus on property rights and non-interference with sufficientarianism’s concern for the poor and needy. Persons are conceived as having stringent rights to direct their lives as they see fit, provided that everyone has enough to live a self-guided life. Yet there are different ways to combine libertarianism and sufficientarianism and hence different types of sufficientarian libertarianism. In the article I present and discuss three types, and I argue that the last (...)
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  • Justice, Thresholds, and the Three Claims of Sufficientarianism.Dick Timmer - forthcoming - Journal of Political Philosophy.
    In this article, I propose a novel characterization of sufficientarianism. I argue that sufficientarianism combines three claims: a priority claim that we have non-instrumental reasons to prioritize benefits in certain ranges over benefits in other ranges; a continuum claim that at least two of those ranges are on one continuum; and a deficiency claim that the lower a range on a continuum, the more priority benefits in that range have. This characterization of sufficientarianism sheds new light on two long-standing philosophical (...)
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  • Markets, Choice and Agency.Timothy Fowler - 2015 - Res Publica 21 (4):347-361.
    John Tomasi’s Free Market Fairness introduces several powerful arguments in favour of a novel and surprising thesis: the best way to realize Rawls’s principles of justice is a free market society, rather than the arrangements that Rawls himself believed would best promote justice. In this paper, I adduce three arguments against Tomasi. First, I suggest that his view rests on a faulty understanding of what constitutes conventional property rights. Second, I argue that many market solutions generate choices which are not (...)
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  • The Difficulties of Sufficientarianism.Yingying Tang - 2017 - Philosophical Forum 48 (2):161-174.
    Although the sufficientarian approach to distributive justice is increasingly popular in contemporary political philosophy, it is not easy to give an appropriate formulation of sufficientarianism. In this article, I aim to show that a proper formulation of sufficientarianism should satisfy three conditions: the Distinctiveness condition, the Intermediacy condition, and the Universality condition. However, I argue that it is very difficult to propose a substantial account of sufficiency that can satisfy the three conditions altogether. After examining several influential sufficientarian accounts, I (...)
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  • What is Wrong with Sufficiency?Lasse Nielsen - 2019 - Res Publica 25 (1):21-38.
    In this paper, I ask what is wrong with sufficiency. I formulate a generic sufficiency principle in relation to which I discuss possible problems for sufficientarianism. I argue against the arbitrariness–concern, that sufficiency theory need only to identify a possible space for determining a plausible threshold, and I argue against the high–low threshold dilemma concern, that multiple-threshold views can solve this dilemma. I then distinguish between currency-pluralist and currency-monist multiple-threshold views and test them against two different versions of the widely (...)
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  • The Claims of Future Persons.Kirsten Meyer - 2018 - Erkenntnis 83 (1):43-59.
    This paper defends a deontological egalitarianism in the ethics of future generations. Concerns about the non-identity problem have been taken as a reason to develop sufficientarian approaches to intergenerational justice. This paper argues for a solution to the non-identity problem that refers to the claims of future persons. In principle, the content of these claims could be spelled out with a sufficientarian and an egalitarian approach. What speaks against sufficientarianism, however, is that the sufficiency threshold, unless it is set very (...)
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  • The Sufficientarian Alternative: A Commentary on Setting Health-Care Priorities.Jay Zameska - 2021 - Diametros 18 (68):46-59.
    In this commentary on Torbjörn Tännsjö’s Setting Health-Care Priorities, I argue that sufficientarianism provides a valuable perspective in considering how to set health care priorities. I claim that pace Tännsjö, sufficientarianism does offer a distinct alternative to prioritarianism. To demonstrate this, I introduce sufficientarianism and distinguish two forms: Tännsjö’s “weak sufficientarianism” and an alternative strong form of sufficientarianism that I call “revised lexical sufficientarianism.” I raise a problem for Tännsjö’s sufficientarianism, and advocate for the revised view on this basis. I (...)
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  • Health(Care) and the Temporal Subject.Ben Davies - 2018 - Les Ateliers de l'Éthique / the Ethics Forum 13 (3):38-64.
    Many assume that theories of distributive justice must obviously take people’s lifetimes, and only their lifetimes, as the relevant period across which we distribute. Although the question of the temporal subject has risen in prominence, it is still relatively underdeveloped, particularly in the sphere of health and healthcare. This paper defends a particular view, “momentary sufficientarianism,” as being an important element of healthcare justice. At the heart of the argument is a commitment to pluralism about justice, where theorizing about just (...)
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  • From Rawlsian Autonomy to Sufficient Opportunity in Education.Liam Shields - 2015 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 14 (1):1470594-13505413.
    Equality of Opportunity is widely thought of as the normative ideal most relevant to the design of educational institutions. One widely discussed interpretation of this ideal is Rawls' principle of Fair Equality of Opportunity. In this paper I argue that theories, like Rawls, that give priority to the achievement of individual autonomy, are committed to giving that same priority to a principle of sufficient opportunity. Thus, the Rawlsian's primary focus when designing educational institutions should be on sufficiency and not equality. (...)
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  • From Rawlsian Autonomy to Sufficient Opportunity in Education.Liam Shields - 2015 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 14 (1):53-66.
    Equality of Opportunity is widely thought of as the normative ideal most relevant to the design of educational institutions. One widely discussed interpretation of this ideal is Rawls' principle of Fair Equality of Opportunity. In this paper I argue that theories, like Rawls, that give priority to the achievement of individual autonomy, are committed to giving that same priority to a principle of sufficient opportunity. Thus, the Rawlsian's primary focus when designing educational institutions should be on sufficiency and not equality. (...)
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  • Sufficientarianism and the Measurement of Inequality.Rudolf Schuessler - 2019 - Moral Philosophy and Politics 6 (1):147-173.
    What impact should sufficientarianism have on the measurement of inequality? Like other theories of justice, sufficientarianism influences how economic inequality is conceived. For the purpose of measurement, its standards of justice can be approximated by income-based thresholds of sufficiency. At which income level could a threshold of having enough be pegged in OECD countries? What would it imply for standard indicators of inequality, such as decile comparisons of cumulated income, income spreads, or the Gini coefficient? This paper suggests some answers (...)
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  • Luck Vs. Capability? Testing Egalitarian Theories.Akira Inoue, Kazumi Shimizu, Daisuke Udagawa & Yoshiki Wakamatsu - 2019 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 10 (4):809-823.
    The issue of distributive justice receives substantial amount of attention in our society. On the one hand, we are sensitive to whether and the extent to which people are responsible for being worse off. On the other hand, we are mindful of society’s worst-off members. There has been a debate over luck egalitarianism, which relates to the former concern, and relational egalitarianism, which echoes the latter. By investigating the psychological processes of these two concerns, this paper examines the reliability of (...)
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  • Utility, Priorities, and Quiescent Sufficiency.Fausto Corvino - 2019 - Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics 21 (3):525-552.
    In this article, I firstly discuss why a prioritarian clause can rescue the utilitarian doctrine from the risk of exacerbating inequality in the distribution of resources in those cases in which utility of income does not decline at the margin. Nonetheless, when in the presence of adaptive preferences, classic prioritarianism is more likely than utilitarianism to increase the inequality of resources under all circumstances, independently of the diminishing trend of utility. Hence, I propose to shift the informational focus of prioritarianism (...)
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  • Intergenerational Justice Today.Andre Santos Campos - 2018 - Philosophy Compass 13 (3):e12477.
    A theory of intergenerational justice consists in the study of the moral and political status of the relations between present and past or future people, more specifically, of the obligations and entitlements they can potentially generate. The challenges that justify talking about responsibilities between generations are myriad. And the disputes they prompt can focus on the past just as much as on the present, even though the fact that the human species has reached a state of technological progress that enables (...)
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  • Income-Based Equity Weights in Healthcare Planning and Policy.Anders Herlitz - 2017 - Journal of Medical Ethics 43 (8):510-514.
    Recent research indicates that there is a gap in life expectancy between the rich and the poor. This raises the question: should we on egalitarian grounds use income-based equity weights when we assess benefits of alternative benevolent interventions, so that health benefits to the poor count for more? This article provides three egalitarian arguments for using income-based equity weights under certain circumstances. If income inequality correlates with inequality in health, we have reason to use income-based equity weights on the ground (...)
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  • Rescuing Sufficientarianism From Itself.Adelin-Costin Dumitru - 2020 - South African Journal of Philosophy 39 (3):347-359.
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  • Compensation for Geoengineering Harms and No-Fault Climate Change Compensation.Pak-Hang Wong, Tom Douglas & Julian Savulescu - 2014 - The Climate Geoengineering Governance Working Papers.
    While geoengineering may counteract negative effects of anthropogenic climate change, it is clear that most geoengineering options could also have some harmful effects. Moreover, it is predicted that the benefits and harms of geoengineering will be distributed unevenly in different parts of the world and to future generations, which raises serious questions of justice. It has been suggested that a compensation scheme to redress geoengineering harms is needed for geoengineering to be ethically and politically acceptable. Discussions of compensation for geoengineering (...)
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  • Social Justice and the Distribution of Republican Freedom.Jonathan Peterson - 2016 - European Journal of Political Theory (1):147488511668475.
    A republican theory of social justice specifies how republican freedom should be distributed. The goal of this paper is to assess the plausibility of two recently proposed principles of republican social justice: an aggregative maximizing principle defended by Philip Pettit in Republicanism and a sufficiency principle of republican social justice offered by Pettit in On the People’s Terms. The maximizing principle must be rejected because it permits under-protecting vulnerable members of society in favor of increasing the freedom of the powerful. (...)
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  • Re-Evaluating Sufficientarianism in Light of Evidence of Inequality’s Harms.Monique Deveaux - 2018 - Ethics and Social Welfare 12 (2):97-116.
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  • Is Moderate Essentialism Truly Moderate?A. Inoue - 2013 - Public Health Ethics 6 (1):21-27.
    In this article, I argue that Powers and Faden’s non-ideal, comprehensive theory of justice cannot keep in line with the proposed moderateness of their essentialist approach. My argument is as follows: Powers and Faden’s comprehensive theory of justice contravenes the thrust of moderate essentialism, in claiming that their theory values health for its own sake. Why do they define their conception of justice as valuing health for its own sake when it is likely to be incongruous with their essentialist approach? (...)
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  • Can Liberal Perfectionism Generate Distinctive Distributive Principles?Chris Mills - 2012 - Philosophy and Public Issues - Filosofia E Questioni Pubbliche 2 (1).
    In his book Liberalism Without Perfection, Jonathan Quong challenges liberal perfectionists to show whether their favoured doctrine is capable of generating distinctive distributive principles whilst retaining a valid conception of personal responsibility. In this article I develop this challenge into a dilemma and show that liberal perfectionists can escape by illustrating how arguments for the value of personal autonomy may entail a specific and distinct treatment of choice and responsibility. I develop this claim into a sufficientarian approach to the promotion (...)
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  • Democracy and the Common Good: A Study of the Weighted Majority Rule.Katharina Berndt Rasmussen - 2013 - Dissertation, Stockholm University
    In this study I analyse the performance of a democratic decision-making rule: the weighted majority rule. It assigns to each voter a number of votes that is proportional to her stakes in the decision. It has been shown that, for collective decisions with two options, the weighted majority rule in combination with self-interested voters maximises the common good when the latter is understood in terms of either the sum-total or prioritarian sum of the voters’ well-being. The main result of my (...)
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  • ¿Cuánta desigualdad es compatible con el federalismo? Sobre los límites de la justicia distributiva federal.Cristian Fatauros - 2018 - Isegoría 59:493-509.
    The traditional doctrine on federalism claims that economic inequalities are morally justified as long as they result from the legitimate exercise of federal subunit self-government. This paper discusses that claim and examines the philosophical grounds of federal economic decentralization in order to lay the basis for a federal theory of distributive justice. I explore the analogy between federal organizations and the international order claiming that moral conditions of political legitimacy generate some requirements for distribution. But also, I criticize the idea (...)
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  • Justice and Public Health.Govind Persad - 2019 - In Anna Mastroianni, Jeff Kahn & Nancy Kass (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Public Health Ethics. New York, NY, USA: pp. ch. 4.
    This chapter discusses how justice applies to public health. It begins by outlining three different metrics employed in discussions of justice: resources, capabilities, and welfare. It then discusses different accounts of justice in distribution, reviewing utilitarianism, egalitarianism, prioritarianism, and sufficientarianism, as well as desert-based theories, and applies these distributive approaches to public health examples. Next, it examines the interplay between distributive justice and individual rights, such as religious rights, property rights, and rights against discrimination, by discussing examples such as mandatory (...)
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  • The Social Gradient in Health: Missed Opportunities or Unjust Inequalities?Gry Wester - 2015 - American Journal of Bioethics 15 (3):60-62.
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  • The Naturalistic Fallacy in Ethical Discourse on the Social Determinants of Health.Daniel Goldberg - 2015 - American Journal of Bioethics 15 (3):58-60.
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  • Intergenerational Justice.Lukas Meyer - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Is it fair to leave the next generation a public debt? Is it defensible to impose legal rules on them through constitutional constraints? From combating climate change to ensuring proper funding for future pensions, concerns about ethics between generations are everywhere. In this volume sixteen philosophers explore intergenerational justice. Part One examines the ways in which various theories of justice look at the matter. These include libertarian, Rawlsian, sufficientarian, contractarian, communitarian, Marxian and reciprocity-based approaches. In Part Two, the authors look (...)
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  • The Leverage Approach for Sufficiency?Zi Lin - 2016 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 19 (5):1203-1210.
    Sufficiency principles generally state that it is especially important for justice that people have enough of certain goods, but it can be hard to give a convincing answer as to what level of goods counts as enough. This paper examines a recent sufficiency view by George Sher, who argues that the threshold level of resources and opportunities that the state should provide for each citizen is whatever level gives one enough leverage to obtain further resources and opportunities without inordinate difficulty (...)
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  • Justice and Bad Luck.Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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