The Metaphysical Case for Luck Egalitarianism

Social Theory and Practice 32 (2):173-189 (2006)
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Some critics of luck egalitarianism have suggested that its reference to responsibility leaves it either assuming metaphysical libertarianism or (in the inevitable absence of a resolution of the free will problem) practically impotent. This paper argues that luck egalitarianism need not fall into either trap. It may in fact be sensitive to the possibility that libertarianism is false, and would not be undermined were this the case. Here luck egalitarianism actually fares better than outcome egalitarianism, which assumes, in just the way luck egalitarianism allegedly does, a controversial metaphysical position. There is, moreover, little difficulty in applying luck egalitarianism in practical contexts on the basis of our best guess about the relevant metaphysical questions. This solution is, of course, non-ideal, but appears preferable to the alternatives, such as simply assuming that metaphysical account of responsibility that offers the best fit with our favored theory of distributive justice

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Carl Knight
University of Glasgow


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