Abandoning the Abandonment Objection: Luck Egalitarian Arguments for Public Insurance

Res Publica 21 (2):119-135 (2015)
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Critics of luck egalitarianism have claimed that, far from providing a justification for the public insurance functions of a welfare state as its proponents claim, the view objectionably abandons those who are deemed responsible for their dire straits. This article considers seven arguments that can be made in response to this ‘abandonment objection’. Four of these arguments are found wanting, with a recurrent problem being their reliance on a dubious sufficientarian or quasi-sufficientarian commitment to provide a threshold of goods unconditionally. Three arguments succeed, showing that luck egalitarians have good reasons for assisting ‘negligent victims’ on account of changes that may occur in an individual between the time of their choice and their subsequent disadvantage, bad option luck, and doubts about free will and responsibility. Luck egalitarianism is therefore shown to offer strong support for public insurance
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