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Carl Knight
University of Glasgow
  1. Luck Egalitarianism.Carl Knight - 2013 - Philosophy Compass 8 (10):924-934.
    Luck egalitarianism is a family of egalitarian theories of distributive justice that aim to counteract the distributive effects of luck. This article explains luck egalitarianism's main ideas, and the debates that have accompanied its rise to prominence. There are two main parts to the discussion. The first part sets out three key moves in the influential early statements of Dworkin, Arneson, and Cohen: the brute luck/option luck distinction, the specification of brute luck in everyday or theoretical terms and the specification (...)
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  2. Benefiting From Injustice and Brute Luck.Carl Knight - 2013 - Social Theory and Practice 39 (4):581-598.
    Many political philosophers maintain that beneficiaries of injustice are under special obligations to assist victims of injustice. However, the examples favoured by those who endorse this view equally support an alternative luck egalitarian view, which holds that special obligations should be assigned to those with good brute luck. From this perspective the distinguishing features of the benefiting view are (1) its silence on the question of whether to allocate special obligations to assist the brute luck worse off to those who (...)
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  3. A Framework for Luck Egalitarianism in Health and Healthcare.Andreas Albertsen & Carl Knight - 2015 - Journal of Medical Ethics 41 (2):165-169.
    Several attempts have been made to apply the choice-sensitive theory of distributive justice, luck egalitarianism, in the context of health and healthcare. This article presents a framework for this discussion by highlighting different normative decisions to be made in such an application, some of the objections to which luck egalitarians must provide answers and some of the practical implications associated with applying such an approach in the real world. It is argued that luck egalitarians should address distributions of health rather (...)
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  4.  33
    Abandoning the Abandonment Objection: Luck Egalitarian Arguments for Public Insurance.Carl Knight - 2015 - Res Publica 21 (2):119-135.
    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. (...)
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  5. Egalitarian Justice and Expected Value.Carl Knight - 2013 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 16 (5):1061-1073.
    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 (...)
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  6. What is Grandfathering?Carl Knight - 2013 - Environmental Politics 22 (3):410-427.
    Emissions grandfathering maintains that prior emissions increase future emission entitlements. The view forms a large part of actual emission control frameworks, but is routinely dismissed by political theorists and applied philosophers as evidently unjust. A sympathetic theoretical reconsideration of grandfathering suggests that the most plausible version is moderate, allowing that other considerations should influence emission entitlements, and be justified on instrumental grounds. The most promising instrumental justification defends moderate grandfathering on the basis that one extra unit of emission entitlements from (...)
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  7. In Defence of Luck Egalitarianism.Carl Knight - 2005 - Res Publica 11 (1):1-10.
    This paper considers issues raised by Elizabeth Anderson's recent critique of the position she terms luck egalitarianism. It is maintained that luck egalitarianism, once clarified and elaborated in certain regards, remains the strongest egalitarian stance. Anderson's arguments that luck egalitarians abandon both the negligent and prudent dependent caretakers fails to account for the moderate positions open to luck egalitarians and overemphasizes their commitment to unregulated market choices. The claim that luck egalitarianism insults citizens by redistributing on the grounds of paternalistic (...)
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  8. In Defence of Cosmopolitanism.Carl Knight - 2011 - Theoria: A Journal of Social and Political Theory 58 (129):19-34.
    David Miller has objected to the cosmopolitan argument that it is arbitrary and hence unfair to treat individuals differently on account of things for which they are not responsible. Such a view seems to require, implausibly, that individuals be treated identically even where (unchosen) needs differ. The objection is, however, inapplicable where the focus of cosmopolitan concern is arbitrary disadvantage rather than arbitrary treatment. This 'unfair disadvantage argument' supports a form of global luck egalitarianism. Miller also objects that cosmopolitanism is (...)
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  9. Climate Change and the Duties of the Disadvantaged: Reply to Caney.Carl Knight - 2011 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 14 (4):531-542.
    Discussions of where the costs of climate change adaptation and mitigation should fall often focus on the 'polluter pays principle' or the 'ability to pay principle'. Simon Caney has recently defended a 'hybrid view', which includes versions of both of these principles. This article argues that Caney's view succeeds in overcoming several shortfalls of both principles, but is nevertheless subject to three important objections: first, it does not distinguish between those emissions which are hard to avoid and those which are (...)
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  10. Inequality, Avoidability, and Healthcare.Carl Knight - 2011 - Iyyun 60:72-88.
    This review article of Shlomi Segall's Health, Luck, and Justice (Princeton University Press, 2010) addresses three issues: first, Segall’s claim that luck egalitarianism, properly construed, does not object to brute luck equality; second, Segall’s claim that brute luck is properly construed as the outcome of actions that it would have been unreasonable to expect the agent to avoid; and third, Segall’s account of healthcare and criticism of rival views. On the first two issues, a more conventional form of luck egalitarianism (...)
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  11. Egalitarian Justice and Valuational Judgment.Carl Knight - 2009 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 6 (4):482-498.
    Contemporary discussions of egalitarian justice have often focused on the issue of expensive taste. G.A. Cohen has recently abandoned the view that all chosen disadvantages are non-compensable, now maintaining that chosen expensive judgmental tastes—those endorsed by valuational judgment—are compensable as it is unreasonable to expect persons not to develop them. But chosen expensive brute taste—the main type of non-compensable expensive taste on the new scheme—cannot be described in such a way that there is a normative difference between it and chosen (...)
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  12. Responsibility and Distributive Justice: An Introduction.Carl Knight & Zofia Stemplowska Carl - 2011 - In Carl Knight & Zofia Stemplowska (eds.), Responsibility and Distributive Justice. Oxford University Press.
    This introductory chapter provides an overview of the recent debate about responsibility and distributive justice. It traces the recent philosophical focus on distributive justice to John Rawls and examines two arguments in his work which might be taken to contain the seeds of the focus on responsibility in later theories of distributive justice. It examines Ronald Dworkin's ‘equality of resources’, the ‘luck egalitarianism’ of Richard Arneson and G. A. Cohen, as well as the criticisms of their work put forward by (...)
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  13. The Injustice of Discrimination.Carl Knight - 2013 - South African Journal of Philosophy 32 (1):47-59.
    Discrimination might be considered unjust on account of the comparative disadvantage it imposes, the absolute disadvantage it imposes, the disrespect it shows, or the prejudice it shows. This article argues that each of these accounts overlooks some cases of unjust discrimination. In response to this state of affairs we might combine two or more of these accounts. A promising approach combines the comparative disadvantage and absolute disadvantage accounts.
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  14. Describing Equality.Carl Knight - 2009 - Law and Philosophy 28 (4):327 - 365.
    This articles proposes that theories and principles of distributive justice be considered substantively egalitarian iff they satisfy each of three conditions: (1) they consider the bare fact that a person is in certain circumstances to be a conclusive reason for placing another relevantly identically entitled person in the same circumstances, except where this conflicts with other similarly conclusive reasons arising from the circumstances of other persons; (2) they can be stated as 'equality of x for all persons', making no explicit (...)
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  15. Unit-Ideas Unleashed: A Reinterpretation and Reassessment of Lovejovian Methodology in the History of Ideas.Carl Knight - 2012 - Journal of the Philosophy of History 6 (2):195-217.
    This article argues for an unconventional interpretation of Arthur O. Lovejoy’s distinctive approach to method in the history of ideas. It is maintained that the value of the central concept of the ‘unit-idea’ has been misunderstood by friends and foes alike. The commonality of unit-ideas at different times and places is often defined in terms of familial resemblance. But such an approach must necessarily define unit-ideas as being something other than the smallest conceptual unit. It is therefore in tension with (...)
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  16. The Metaphysical Case for Luck Egalitarianism.Carl Knight - 2006 - Social Theory and Practice 32 (2):173-189.
    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 (...)
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  17. Distributive Luck.Carl Knight - 2012 - South African Journal of Philosophy 31 (2):541-559.
    This article explores the Rawlsian goal of ensuring that distributions are not influenced by the morally arbitrary. It does so by bringing discussions of distributive justice into contact with the debate over moral luck initiated by Williams and Nagel. Rawls’ own justice as fairness appears to be incompatible with the arbitrariness commitment, as it creates some equalities arbitrarily. A major rival, Dworkin’s version of brute luck egalitarianism, aims to be continuous with ordinary ethics, and so is (a) sensitive to non-philosophical (...)
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  18. A Pluralistic Approach to Global Poverty.Carl Knight - 2008 - Review of International Studies 34 (4):713-33.
    A large proportion of humankind today lives in avoidable poverty. This article examines whether affluent individuals and governments have moral duties to change this situation. It is maintained that an alternative to the familiar accounts of transdomestic distributive justice and personal ethics put forward by writers such as Peter Singer, John Rawls, and Thomas Pogge is required, since each of these accounts fails to reflect the full range of relevant considerations. A better account would give some weight to overall utility, (...)
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  19. Responsibility, Desert, and Justice.Carl Knight - 2011 - In Carl Knight & Zofia Stemplowska (eds.), Responsibility and Distributive Justice. Oxford University Press.
    This chapter identifies three contrasts between responsibility-sensitive justice and desert-sensitive justice. First, while responsibility may be appraised on prudential or moral grounds, it is argued that desert is necessarily moral. As moral appraisal is much more plausible, responsibility-sensitive justice is only attractive in one of its two formulations. Second, strict responsibility sensitivity does not compensate for all forms of bad brute luck, and forms of responsibility-sensitive justice like luck egalitarianism that provide such compensation do so by appealing to independent moral (...)
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  20. The Method of Reflective Equilibrium: Wide, Radical, Fallible, Plausible.Carl Knight - 2006 - Philosophical Papers 35 (2):205-229.
    This article argues that, suitably modified, the method of reflective equilibrium is a plausible way of selecting moral principles. The appropriate conception of the method is wide and radical, admitting consideration of a full range of moral principles and arguments, and requiring the enquiring individual to consider others' views and undergo experiences that may offset any formative biases. The individual is not bound by his initial considered judgments, and may revise his view in any way whatsoever. It is appropriate to (...)
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  21.  15
    Justice for Foxes.Carl Knight - 2015 - Law and Philosophy 34 (6):633-659.
    Ronald Dworkin maintains that value is unitary, in the sense that different values do not conflict. This article resists this ‘hedgehog’ view with reference to the values of equality and utility. These appear to yield conflicting prescriptions in cases where one possible distribution gives different individuals the same amount of advantage, and the other contains an unequal distribution of a greater overall amount of advantage. Hedgehogs might respond to such a case in two ways. First, they might claim that equality (...)
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  22. Moderate Emissions Grandfathering.Carl Knight - 2014 - Environmental Values 23 (5):571-592.
    Emissions grandfathering holds that a history of emissions strengthens an agent’s claim for future emission entitlements. Though grandfathering appears to have been influential in actual emission control frameworks, it is rarely taken seriously by philosophers. This article presents an argument for thinking this an oversight. The core of the argument is that members of countries with higher historical emissions are typically burdened with higher costs when transitioning to a given lower level of emissions. According to several appealing views in political (...)
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  23. Equality and Information.Carl Knight & Roger Knight - 2012 - Ethical Perspectives 19 (3):469-499.
    Traditional outcome-orientated egalitarian principles require access to information about the size of individual holdings. Recent egalitarian political theory has sought to accommodate considerations of responsibility. Such a move may seem problematic, in that a new informational burden is thereby introduced, with no apparent decrease in the existing burden. This article uses a simple model with simulated data to examine the extent to which outcome egalitarianism and responsibility-sensitive egalitarianism (‘luck egalitarianism’) can be accurately applied where information is incomplete or erroneous. It (...)
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  24.  48
    In Defence of Global Egalitarianism.Carl Knight - 2012 - Journal of Global Ethics 8 (1):107-116.
    This essay argues that David Miller's criticisms of global egalitarianism do not undermine the view where it is stated in one of its stronger, luck egalitarian forms. The claim that global egalitarianism cannot specify a metric of justice which is broad enough to exclude spurious claims for redistribution, but precise enough to appropriately value different kinds of advantage, implicitly assumes that cultural understandings are the only legitimate way of identifying what counts as advantage. But that is an assumption always or (...)
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  25.  7
    Justice and the Grey Box of Responsibility.Carl Knight - 2010 - Theoria: A Journal of Social and Political Theory 57 (125):86-112.
    Even where an act appears to be responsible, and satisfies all the conditions for responsibility laid down by society, the response to it may be unjust where that appearance is false, and where those conditions are insufficient. This paper argues that those who want to place considerations of responsibility at the centre of distributive and criminal justice ought to take this concern seriously. The common strategy of relying on what Susan Hurley describes as a 'black box of responsibility' has the (...)
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  26.  32
    Climate Change, Fundamental Interests, and Global Justice.Carl Knight - 2016 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 19 (5):629-644.
    Political philosophers commonly tackle the issue of climate change by focusing on fundamental interests as a basis for human rights. This approach struggles, however, in cases where one set of fundamental interests requires one course of action, and another set of fundamental interests requires another course of action. This article advances an alternative response to climate change based on an account of global justice that gives weight to utilitarian, prioritarian, and luck egalitarian considerations. A practical application of this pluralistic account (...)
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  27.  24
    Discrimination and Equality of Opportunity.Carl Knight - 2018 - In Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of the Ethics of Discrimination. London, UK: pp. 140-150.
    Discrimination, understood as differential treatment of individuals on the basis of their respective group memberships, is widely considered to be morally wrong. This moral judgment is backed in many jurisdictions with the passage of equality of opportunity legislation, which aims to ensure that racial, ethnic, religious, sexual, sexual-orientation, disability and other groups are not subjected to discrimination. This chapter explores the conceptual underpinnings of discrimination and equality of opportunity using the tools of analytical moral and political philosophy.
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  28.  41
    Enough Is Too Much: The Excessiveness Objection to Sufficientarianism.Carl Knight - forthcoming - Economics and Philosophy.
    The standard version of sufficientarianism maintains that providing people with enough, or as close to enough as is possible, is lexically prior to other distributive goals. This article argues that this is excessive - more than distributive justice allows - in four distinct ways. These concern the magnitude of advantage, the number of beneficiaries, responsibility and desert, and above-threshold distribution. Sufficientarians can respond by accepting that providing enough unconditionally is more than distributive justice allows, instead balancing sufficiency against other considerations.
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  29. Justice and the Grey Box of Responsibility.Carl Knight - 2010 - Theoria: A Journal of Social and Political Theory 57 (124):86-112.
    Even where an act appears to be responsible, and satisfies all the conditions for responsibility laid down by society, the response to it may be unjust where that appearance is false, and where those conditions are insufficient. This paper argues that those who want to place considerations of responsibility at the centre of distributive and criminal justice ought to take this concern seriously. The common strategy of relying on what Susan Hurley describes as a 'black box of responsibility' has the (...)
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  30.  20
    Luck Egalitarianism and the History of Political Thought.Carl Knight - 2016 - In Camilla Boisen & Matthew C. Murray (eds.), Distributive Justice Debates in Political and Social Thought. Abingdon, UK: pp. 26-38.
    Luck egalitarianism is a family of egalitarian theories of distributive justice that give a special place to luck, choice, and responsibility. These theories can be understood as responding to perceived weaknesses in influential earlier theories of both the left – in particular Rawls’ liberal egalitarianism (1971) – and the right – Nozick’s libertarianism (1974) stands out here. Rawls put great emphasis on the continuity of his theory with the great social contract theories of modern political thought, particularly emphasising its Kantian (...)
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  31.  66
    Liberal Multiculturalism Reconsidered.Carl Knight - 2004 - POLITICS 24 (3):189-97.
    This article starts by setting out the evaluative criteria provided by Will Kymlicka's liberal account of individual freedom and equality. Kymlicka's theory of cultural minority rights is then analysed using these criteria and found to be defective in two respects. First, his assignment of different rights to national and ethnic groups is shown to be inegalitarian with regard to generations after the first. Second, his recommendation of strong cultural protections is shown in some circumstances to undermine freedom and equality. Towards (...)
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  32.  4
    Reflective Equilibrium.Carl Knight - 2017 - In Adrian Blau (ed.), Methods in Analytical Political Theory. Cambridge: pp. 46-64.
    The method of reflective equilibrium focuses on the relationship between principles and judgments. Principles are relatively general rules for comprehending the area of enquiry. Judgments are our intuitions or commitments, ‘at all levels of generality’ (Rawls 1975: 8), regarding the subject matter. The basic idea of reflective equilibrium is to bring principles and judgments into accord. This can be achieved by revising the principles and/or the judgments. -/- I first look at normative political judgments (Section 2) before considering the role (...)
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  33.  81
    Persons, Interests, and Justice * by Nils Holtug. [REVIEW]Carl Knight - 2011 - Analysis 71 (4):790-793.
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  34. Rawlsian Justice and Palliative Care.Carl Knight & Andreas Albertsen - 2015 - Bioethics 29 (8):536-542.
    Palliative care serves both as an integrated part of treatment and as a last effort to care for those we cannot cure. The extent to which palliative care should be provided and our reasons for doing so have been curiously overlooked in the debate about distributive justice in health and healthcare. We argue that one prominent approach, the Rawlsian approach developed by Norman Daniels, is unable to provide such reasons and such care. This is because of a central feature in (...)
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  35. Theories of Distributive Justice and Post-Apartheid South Africa.Carl Knight - 2014 - Politikon 41 (1):23-38.
    South Africa is a highly distributively unequal country, and its inequality continues to be largely along racial lines. Such circumstances call for assessment from the perspective of contemporary theories of distributive justice. Three such theories—Rawlsian justice, utilitarianism, and luck egalitarianism—are described and applied. Rawls' difference principle recommends that the worst off be made as well as they can be, a standard which South Africa clearly falls short of. Utilitarianism recommends the maximization of overall societal well-being, a goal which South Africa (...)
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  36.  17
    Yascha Mounk, The Age of Responsibility: Luck, Choice, and the Welfare State. [REVIEW]Carl Knight - 2019 - Ethics 129 (3):489-492.
    The notion of responsibility has come to play a leading role in both political discourse and political philosophy. Yasha Mounk’s The Age of Responsibility provides a wide-ranging exploration of this zeitgeist. As the author notes, ‘[t]his book stands at an unusual methodological intersection. It contains elements of intellectual history, social theory, comparative politics, and normative political philosophy’ (26). Philosophical theories of free will and moral luck battle for space with analyses of welfare conditionality and Obama’s speeches. The author navigates this (...)
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