Who are the least advantaged?

In Nils Holtug & Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen (eds.), Egalitarianism: New Essays on the Nature and Value of Equality. Oxford University Press. pp. 174--95 (2006)
  Copy   BIBTEX


The difference principle, introduced by Rawls (1971, 1993), is generally interpreted as leximin, but this is not how he intended it. Rawls explicitly states that the difference principle requires that aggregate benefits (e.g., average or total) to those in the least advantaged group be given lexical priority over benefits to others, where the least advantaged group includes more than the strictly worst off individuals. We study the implications of adopting different approaches to the definition of the least advantaged group and show that, if acyclicity is required, several seemingly plausible approaches lead to something close to leximin. We then show that significant aggregation is possible, if the least advantaged group is defined as those with those with less benefits than some strictly positive transform of the lowest level of benefits. Finally, we discuss the implications of requiring that, in comparing two alternatives, the cutoff for the least advantaged group of one alternative be the same as that for the other alternative.

Author's Profile

Peter Vallentyne
University of Missouri, Columbia


Added to PP

239 (#40,655)

6 months
16 (#74,170)

Historical graph of downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.
How can I increase my downloads?