Egalitarians, sufficientarians, and mathematicians: a critical notice of Harry Frankfurt’s On Inequality

Canadian Journal of Philosophy 46 (2):145-162 (2016)
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This critical notice provides an overview of Harry Frankfurt’s On Inequality and assesses whether Frankfurt is right to argue that equality is merely formal and empty. I counter-argue that egalitarianism, properly tweaked and circumscribed, can be defended against Frankfurt’s repudiation. After surveying the main arguments in Frankfurt’s book, I argue that whatever plausibility the ‘doctrine of sufficiency’ defended by Frankfurt may have, it does not strike a fatal blow against egalitarianism. There is nothing in egalitarianism that forbids acceptance of the moral platitude expressed in sufficientarianism's positive thesis,. Nor is there anything in egalitarianism as such that makes it impossible to recognize the banal truth that there are many important things besides equality, and that many dimensions of human affairs are improperly appraised from a relational or comparative point of view. The fact that a relational or comparative point o...

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David Rondel
University of Nevada, Reno


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