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Are egalitarians really vulnerable to the Levelling-Down Objection and the Divided World Example?

Subbu Subramanian ()
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Subbu Subramanian: Madras Institute of Development Studies

The Journal of Philosophical Economics, 2011, vol. 4, issue 2, 5-14

Abstract: This essay is a quick critique of one aspect of Derek Parfit’s criticism of Egalitarianism in his larger consideration of the claims of, and distinction between, Prioritarianism and Egalitarianism. It reviews issues relating to the ‘Levelling Down Objection’ and the ‘Divided World Example’. More specifically, it is argued that the Levelling Down Objection is a serious problem only for Pure Telic Egalitarianism, not for Pluralist Telic Egalitarianism; and that even in a Divided World, one can have an egalitarian justification for preferring an equal distribution of a smaller sum of wellbeing to an unequal distribution of a larger sum. By these means, it is contended that Parfit’s claim of the vulnerability of Egalitarianism to the Levelling Down Objection and the Divided World Example is not sustainable.

Keywords: pure and pluralist telic egalitarianism; deontic egalitarianism; prioritarianism (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Z00 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2011
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