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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. 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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  3. 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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  4. 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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  5. 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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  6. 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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  7. 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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  8. 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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  9. 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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  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. 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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  12. 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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  13. 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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  14. 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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  15. 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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  16. 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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  17. 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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  18. 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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