Beyond Sufficiency: G.A. Cohen's Community Constraint on Luck Egalitarianism

Kritike 12 (1):215-232 (2018)
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Abstract
G. A. Cohen conceptualizes socialism as luck egalitarianism constrained by a community principle. The latter mitigates certain inequalities to achieve a shared common life. This article explores the plausibility of the community constraint on inequality in light of two related problems. First, if it is voluntary, it fails as a response to “the abandonment objection” to luck egalitarianism, as it would not guarantee imprudent people sufficient resources to avoid deprivation and to function as equal citizens in a democratic society. Contra Cohenite socialism, this appears unjust. Second, if it is instead enforced, coercive equalization beyond sufficiency-constrained luck egalitarianism, which is possibly necessary to achieve a shared common life, seems to require unjustified restrictions on liberty. I therefore argue that the constraint is most plausibly specified as requiring enforcement of sufficiency and only voluntary equalization thereafter. I also note, skeptically, why this constraint might be morally preferable to a purely sufficientarian alternative.
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Archival date: 2018-10-13
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