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« The Neutrality Dilemma for Luck Egalitarianism »

Quand :
21 mars 2018 @ 16:15 – 17:45
Où :
Salle 309
2910 Boulevard Edouard-Montpetit
Montréal, QC H3T 1J7

Les chercheurs.ses du CRÉ sont heureux.ses d’accueillir Huub Brouwer (Tilburg University, Pays-Bas), qui offrira une présentation intitulée « The Neutrality Dilemma for Luck Egalitarianism ».


G.A. Cohen once wrote that “Dworkin has, in effect, performed for egalitarianism the considerable service of incorporating within it the most powerful idea in the arsenal of the anti-egalitarian right: the idea of choice and responsibility” (1989, 933). A common critique of the theory inspired by Dworkin’s work, luck egalitarianism, is that it takes too much from the anti-egalitarian right. According to this critique, luck egalitarianism is too harsh on those who are responsible for being badly off. More specifically, it is thought to be too harsh, because it does not provide distributive justice reasons for (i) satisfying basic needs, and (ii) compensating those who voluntarily make costly, praiseworthy choices.

In response, some luck egalitarians have argued that critics wrongfully assume that they subscribe to a contextualist principle of stakes to identify the consequences of voluntary choices. On this principle, people would have to bear all the consequences of those choices. However, the luck egalitarian has various alternatives to the contextualist principle of stakes at her disposal, which require people to bear only a subset of those consequences. For instance, only those that people deserve, or only those that would be optimal for people to bear on consequentialist grounds.

As Serena Olsaretti points out, principles of stakes are committed to theories of value: They “presuppose a view of what individuals owe to one another in order to determine the legitimate consequences of choices” (2009, 186). The project of this paper is to ask to what extent a commitment to theories of value for identifying the consequences of people’s voluntary choices can be reconciled with the liberal commitment to neutrality in justification. Our answer (the main claim of this paper) is that luck egalitarianism seems to be faced with a neutrality dilemma: It cannot simultaneously be neutral in justification and not harsh.

– Huub Brouwer & Julien Kloeg