Egalitarian Justice and Expected Value

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 16 (5):1061-1073 (2013)
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According to all-luck egalitarianism, the differential distributive effects of both brute luck, which defines the outcome of risks which are not deliberately taken, and option luck, which defines the outcome of deliberate gambles, are unjust. Exactly how to correct the effects of option luck is, however, a complex issue. This article argues that (a) option luck should be neutralized not just by correcting luck among gamblers, but among the community as a whole, because it would be unfair for gamblers as a group to be disadvantaged relative to non-gamblers by bad option luck; (b) individuals should receive the warranted expected results of their gambles, except insofar as individuals blamelessly lacked the ability to ascertain which expectations were warranted; and (c) where societal resources are insufficient to deliver expected results to gamblers, gamblers should receive a lesser distributive share which is in proportion to the expected results. Where all-luck egalitarianism is understood in this way, it allows risk-takers to impose externalities on non-risk-takers, which seems counterintuitive. This may, however, be an advantage as it provides a luck egalitarian rationale for assisting ‘negligent victims’

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Carl Knight
University of Glasgow


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