Insurance and Equality Revisited

Public Affairs Quarterly 32 (3):205-225 (2018)
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Theorists of the welfare state increasingly recognize that social insurance programs are not well-justified by distributive egalitarianism—meaning concern for equality considered as a pattern in the distribution of some good. However, recent work by several relational egalitarian theorists suggests that these programs may be justified on relational egalitarian grounds. Relational egalitarians hold that the proper object of egalitarian concern is the way that citizens relate to one another. In this paper, I review the problems facing a distributive egalitarian justification for social insurance before considering and rejecting three relational egalitarian justifications. I close by offering a justification for these programs grounded in efficiency, not equality.

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L. Chad Horne
Northwestern University


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