S. V.Vinogradov

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  • № 4, 2023

    • Equality of Luck: Evolvement of Egalitarian Theories of Justice in the Late 20th Century

      Since the publication of John Rawls’s Theory of Justice, the egalitarian tradition, which associates fair institutional structure with reaching equality in one aspect or another, has started to play a central role in academic discussions of the social justice problem. The article is devoted to the analysis of the evolution of egalitarianism of luck, which by the end of the 20th century has become the main direction in the framework of this tradition. The proponents of this direction in their argument depart from Rawls’s idea about the lottery of birth, according to which a game played by a fortune, being arbitrary from the moral point of view and affecting the distribution of resources in society, is unfair, and therefore should be compensated.

      Rawls’s approach to minimizing the role of luck in a fair distribution did not guarantee sufficient compensation for natural inequalities, assuming at the same time excessive compensation for “expensive tastes”. Trying to solve this problem, Ronald Dworkin distinguished between brute and option luck, using the model of the “veil of ignorance”, behind which the amount of fair compensation is determined. Further development of egalitarianism of luck at the turn of the 1980—1990s is associated with the names of Richard Arneson, Gerald Cohen, John Roemer and some other authors who made a number of amendments and changes to the concept of undeserved luck and proposed their own ways to neutralize its consequences for society.

      The arguments of proponents of luck egalitarianism at the end of the 20th century aimed at strengthening the role of an individual’s freedom of choice and implantation of the ethics of responsibility into the theory of social justice. At the same time, the interpretation of luck as a true “currency of equality” made the question of fair distribution conditional upon the consensus on the limits of human capacity for systematic cultivation of virtues and the scope of individual responsibility for one’s own destiny.

      DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2023-111-4-51-66

      Pages: 51-66

  • № 1, 2021

    • Rescuing Rawlsian Justice: Are Fraternity and Difference Principle Compatible?

      The revival of the academic interest in the problem of fair distribution of resources in the society, which is one of the key issues for the political thought today, is largely associated with the name of John Rawls and his Theory of Justice. The article is devoted to the analysis of Rawls’s arguments in support of the difference principle as one of the principles of social justice. According to Rawls (whose arguments later formed the foundation for a separate direction in the political-philosophical thought known as luck egalitarianism), due to the random nature of the original distribution of talents, inequality in human wellbeing cannot be justified by an appeal to a merit. However, because strict equality in distribution might reduce productivity of the owners of talent, achieving the best outcome for all requires such inequalities that incentivize the more talented to work as efficiently as possible for the benefit of the less talented. This compromise drew criticism from ardent egalitarians, among which Gerald Cohen articulated objections to the difference principle most clearly and compared the claims of the most talented for material rewards with extortion.

      Having considered possible justifications for the need for incentives, based on Rawls’s argument in the Theory of Justice, the authors conclude that these justifications do not solve the problem that Cohen revealed. Appealing to human nature merely translates the dispute into the methodological realm: should the theory of justice proceed from reality, or should it be guided by the ideal? In turn, the inevitability of a conflict of private interests does not fit well with Rawls’s ideal of fraternity as an integral part of a just social order. According to their conclusion, in order to resolve the internal contradiction in Rawls’s theory, it is necessary to abandon either the postulates of luck egalitarianism or difference principle. However, both of these options directly contradict Rawls’s intellectual constructs and undermine the basic foundations of his concept.

      DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2021-100-1-60-74

      Pages: 60-74