Inequality, injustice and levelling down

Thomas D Christiano, Will Braynen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The levelling down objection is the most serious objection to the principle of equality, but we think it can be conclusively defeated. It is serious because it pits the principle of equality squarely against the welfares of the persons whose welfares or resources are equalized. It suggests that there is something perverse about the principle of equality. In this paper, we argue that levelling down is not an implication of the principle of equality. To show this we offer a defence of, and partial elaboration of, what we call a common good conception of the principle of equality, which principle favours states in which everyone is better off to those in which everyone is worse off. We contrast this with what we call a purely structural conception of the principle of equality. The common good conception of equality involves two basic components: (1) in each circumstance there exists an ideal egalitarian distribution, which distributes equally all the available good in the distribution with the highest average welfare and (2) in evaluating how just the world is, it will matter how far the actual distribution is from the ideal distribution. The ideal egalitarian distribution in the circumstance is Pareto optimal and the approximation rule implies that Pareto superior states are less unjust than Pareto inferior states.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)392-420
Number of pages29
JournalRatio
Volume21
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2008

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Leveling
Equality
Injustice
Conception
Approximation
Resources
Levelling down Objection
Person
Elaboration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy

Cite this

Christiano, T. D., & Braynen, W. (2008). Inequality, injustice and levelling down. Ratio, 21(4), 392-420.

Inequality, injustice and levelling down. / Christiano, Thomas D; Braynen, Will.

In: Ratio, Vol. 21, No. 4, 12.2008, p. 392-420.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Christiano, TD & Braynen, W 2008, 'Inequality, injustice and levelling down', Ratio, vol. 21, no. 4, pp. 392-420.
Christiano TD, Braynen W. Inequality, injustice and levelling down. Ratio. 2008 Dec;21(4):392-420.
Christiano, Thomas D ; Braynen, Will. / Inequality, injustice and levelling down. In: Ratio. 2008 ; Vol. 21, No. 4. pp. 392-420.
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