Author Archives: LR

PLS 404-01

Arneson, replies to objections:

  1. given greater difficulty and narrower options there cld be cases where we are justified in failing to conform to a standard and therefore we wld still be deserving of assistance.
  2. policy must be coarse-grained, and if so then welfare assistance will include giving assistance to the undeserving
  3. assistance to the desreving is a higher priority of justice than avoiding assistance to the undeserving


  • genealogy of “dependency:” history & origin of meaning of the concept
    • contemporary usage is ideological in the sense that it promotes a (valuative) belief system
      • true even though we treat it as neutral in meaning, when in fact disguises unacknowledged assumptions (moral/political)
        • morally stigmatizing associations
          • assumes that independence is absolutely good
          • assumes that dependency is absolutely bad
          • assumes some norms of independence (what is, what isn’t)



PLS 404-01

Rachels contd, college admissions preference based on race (affirmative action)

  • justice depends on why the applicant is better qualified: whether qualifications are deserved
  • if he worked harder, then deserved
  • if he had academic advantages over others then not deserved
  • if policy sometimes neutralizes undeserved advantages, then just
  • in some cases, equal treatment is not just
  • in other cases, equal treatment is just
  • if no policy in place but academic cred, then policy preserves unfair advantage
  • overall, more just


  • argument con: undeserved honor, role of cheerleading includes athletic skill
  • argument pro: role of cheerleader includes “spirit,” so could be deserved honor
  • in order to conclude, social practice of “cheerleading” needs to be redefined

PLS 404-01

Parfit cnt’d

Pluralist egalitarian

  1. deontic: inequality only bad if unjust, not if no one at fault
  2. telic: inequality bad even if not unjust


Pluralist justice: rights not only factor, justice requires morally deserved treatment

PLS 404-01

Objections to Temkin, cont’d

  1. sufficiency more important
  2. prioritize need over equality
  3. leveling-down objection
    • tear down well-off A to bring up poor B
    • doesn’t improve others’ situation
  4. raising-up objection
    • improving position of well-off does not worsen condition of others

T’s reply: assumes well-being is all that matters in justice/fairness (desert matters, objections above don’t prove that egalitarianism works)

Parfit (pluralist egalitarian) asks:

  1. teleological egalitarianism (“telic”)
    • intrinsically bad to be worse off than another (equality trumps utility)
  2. intrinsically good to be better off, utility trumps equality

eq. & util both important, one doesn’t trump another

what about options? p.463

  1. all @ 150
  2. 50% @ 199, 50% @200
  3. 50% @101, 50% @200


PLS 404-01

Objections to Singer:

  1. overstated: if no IS, doesn’t mean no OUGHT
  2. unfair: actions of others have no bearing on actions of self
  3. unrealistic: standard too high, results in less charity

Luck/comparative egalitarianism

  • inequality is sometimes unfair
    • if comparatively worse off than someone no more deserving
    • inequality bad only due to bad luck, rather than choices/actions

Equality to some degree of:

  • ex ante equality (procedural)
  • ex post equality (substantive)
  • equal prospects, not equal outcome


  1. sufficiency matters more than equality

PLS 404-01


  1. moral duty to prevent harm if comparable moral sacrifice not required (in actor’s best judgment)
  2. duty to impartiality: no discrimination according to distance
  3. charity is a moral duty: must give all unneeded wealth to those in need

PLS 404-01


  1. Liberal egalitarianism rectifies unchosen inequalities
  2. should have group rights for minorities who face disadvantages/ineq. if disadvantages are threaatening to cultural survival
  3. “Benign neglect” impossible/myth: state cannot be completely neutral ith respect to cultural groups (nat’l, ethnic etc)
  4. majority culture is already supported and equality/fairness demands the same support for others when possible

Historical Agreement Defense

  1. minority rights based in treaties
  2. groups gave up self-govt rights in exchange for group-differentiated rights

PLS 404-01

For next week: 1-11 Sandel, Liberalism and Limits of Justice

Nozick rejects “patterned theories” (outcomes must match certain patterns)

  • egalitarianism
  • “moral merit”
  • “to each according to X”
  • marginal product
  • effort (how hard one tries)
  • sum of all the above, etc

supports “Entitlement theory”

  • just acquisition = just “holding”
  • presupposes theory of Property

“Wilt Chamberlain” argument against patterned theories (for a minimal state)

  1. holding just if acquired justly
  2. on any patterned theory, just steps can upset pattern
  3. to maintain it, you must either prevent just transfer or redistribute just holdings
  4. this violates property rights of holders
  5. therefore only entitlement theory is just; only minimal state is just

PLS 404-01

1-09 Nozick, Anarchy, State, and Utopia

Rawls, Cont’d

Social Contract Theory of justice

  • political authority is justified by implied consent of governed
  • “fair” refers to process v. result
  • “Original Position”
    • principles are fair if they result from fair process
    • start from imaginary “fair” bargaining position, in which we would nad could agree to principles of justice
    • veil of ignorance levels out inequalities of position

PLS 404-01

1-6 Rawls, A Liberal Theory of Justice

NY Times – Harder for Americans to Rise from Lower Rungs

  • PLS is subset of ethical/value theory (normative)
  • Justice is core concept, which is about “protection”
    • negotiate disputes between A – B
  • “What is justice?” = what legitimates pol. authority
    • justice appeals to principle of morality
    • moral concept; concepts of ends
    • good = freedom & self-determination
    • justice = protection
  • Utilitarian
    • greatest net social happiness (greatest good for greatest number)

Fairness in dogs