Egalitarianism and Consequentialism
University professor

(New York University - Department of Philosophy and the School of Law)

Samuel Scheffler is University Professor in the Department of Philosophy and the School of Law at New York University. He received his B.A. from Harvard and his Ph.D. from Princeton. He taught at Berkeley from 1977 to 2008, before moving to NYU. He works primarily in the areas of moral and political philosophy and the theory of value. His writings have addressed central questions in ethical theory, and he has also written on topics as diverse as equality, nationalism and cosmopolitanism, toleration, terrorism, immigration, tradition, and the moral significance of personal relationships. He is the author of six books: The Rejection of Consequentialism, Human Morality, Boundaries and Allegiances, Equality and Tradition (Niko Kolodny ed.), Death and the Afterlife, and, most recently, Why Worry about Future Generations?

 

He was invited at the EHESS on the 11th June 2019 to present a paper on “Membership and Political Obligation” at the CESPRA Séminaire de Philosophie Politique Normative. This interview was conducted prior to the seminar by Luc Foisneau (CNRS director of research) and Véronique Munoz-Dardé (UCL/Berkeley). On the 13th of June, Samuel Scheffler also participated in a workshop at the EHESS on “Egalitarianism and Consequentialism: On the Philosophy of Samuel Scheffler,” co-organized by Luc Foisneau and Victor Mardellat (PhD candidate in philosophy, CESPRA).

► To access to the interview with Samuel Scheffler, click here

 

Edited by Serge Blérard

© Direction de l'image et du son (EHESS)

Portrait de Scheffler © Salvaing

How did you come to be interested in philosophy?

Luc FoisneauHello, Sam Scheffler. This is a pleasure to have you in Paris. My first question is about how you came to be interested in philosophy in the first place.

Samuel Scheffler – Well, first, thank you very much for inviting me to have this conversation with you. It’s a pleasure to be here in Paris. The question of how I first got interested in philosophy is a little bit complicated in my case. So I will give you two answers and I won’t try to explain the relation of the two answers to each other, because this is partly a philosophical problem. I will leave it for your viewers to ponder.

 

The first answer is that my father, Israel Scheffler (1923-2014), was a philosopher, so I was raised in a philosophical household, as it were. That certainly influenced me in all kinds of ways, some of which I am aware of and some of which I am not aware of. For one thing, it meant that the idea of being a philosopher or a philosophy professor was salient to me from the time I was a young child, which is probably not true of most people. It wasn’t something I had to discover. And although I certainly didn’t grow up thinking I wanted to be a philosopher or a philosophy professor, there’s no doubt that I internalized habits of mind and ways of thinking that I now recognize as philosophical. So that’s one answer.

 

The other answer, from the inside, as it were, or in terms of what it felt like, is this. When I went off to university, I didn’t have the idea of studying philosophy, and I certainly didn’t have the idea that that was something I wanted to pursue as a career. This was during the late 1960s. I was quite interested in politics. It was a very political time. I first took a course in the politics department—or as they called it at Harvard, the government department—from Michael Walzer, which was a wonderful course and really got me interested in the subject. It wasn’t officially a philosophy course. It was a politics course.

Luc FoisneauWhat was it about?

Samuel Scheffler – It was about political obligation. And eventually that course made me realize that the kinds of interests I had were best pursued—or so it seemed to me—in the philosophy department rather than in the government department. So I eventually ended up studying philosophy as my undergraduate subject. And then I went to graduate school at Princeton. It was a time when there was a very strong group of faculty members there who were specializing in moral and political philosophy. Tom Nagel was there, Tim Scanlon was there. So it was an exciting time, both in the wider culture and in the department, for people with interests in those fields. And those fields became my primary academic interests. After I left Princeton, my first job was teaching in Berkeley, where I was for about 30 years, and then I moved to New York.

Luc FoisneauWhat was the difference between the West Coast and the East Coast as far as philosophy is concerned?

Samuel Scheffler – Well, I don’t know that there is a difference by coast. It is an interesting question how one department differs from another department. If you zoom out far enough, all of these sorts of major research universities with philosophy departments, they all look kind of similar. They are doing very much the same sorts of things. On the other hand, each one is fairly small or modest in size. And a lot of the character of each department is determined by the particular faculty members who make it up and the students they attract, and what those faculty members think is worth talking about and what isn’t worth talking about. Every time I have moved from one department to another, I have been struck both with a sense of familiarity and with a sense of strangeness. On the one hand, we are all doing the same thing. On the other hand, moving from one department to another, you suddenly discover that things that your previous colleagues took for granted as being worth discussing, now people sort of sneer at in your new department. Or alternatively, that things your previous colleagues used to sneer at and dismiss are now taken very seriously. So there was a bit of that each time I moved, from being an undergraduate student to a graduate student, or to Berkeley, or to NYU. But I don’t think of it as a West Coast vs East Coast divide.

What is interesting about consequentialism?

Luc FoisneauWhat about your first interest? The main topic that you have been studying when you started your career in philosophy was consequentialism. Could you explain to us the reason why it is interesting reflecting on this notion?

Samuel Scheffler – Well, ‘consequentialism’ is a piece of philosophical jargon that may or may not be familiar to people. ‘Consequentialism’ is a term that philosophers invented to characterize the type of view of which utilitarianism is perhaps the best-known example. To give you a very general characterization of consequentialism: it is a view which says that, both in morality and in politics, we should always be guided by whatever would produce the best overall results or the best consequences. In its modern form, consequentialism originated with the great British utilitarians, like Bentham, Mill, Adam Smith, and so on. They were social reformers. Part of their impulse was to try to undercut the tendency to treat historical traditions and ways of doing things as authoritative just because they had the weight of history behind them.  They wanted to challenge conventional understandings of how social institutions were arranged, and to say: “Look, what really matters is how people’s lives are going to be affected by these social institutions.”

 

In contemporary philosophical discourse, the idea of consequentialism has taken on a life of its own.  It has been extended to a theory of individual morality, a theory saying that each of us should always be doing the thing that will have the best overall results. There are many different variants of this general idea, of course.  However, my own instincts have always been strongly anti-consequentialist. But at the same time, I have always felt that there was a certain power to the consequentialist idea. And indeed, despite the term ‘consequentialism’ being a piece of philosophical jargon, the position to which it refers is quite an influential view outside of philosophy. Among economists, it is nearly the universally held view in some form or other. It has been very influential, certainly in the United States, in the design of legal institutions. So it has played an important role in social and political life.

 

My own instincts, as I said, have always been strongly anti-consequentialist. But I recognize the power of the view, and I have also thought that it presents a certain challenge to ordinary moral thought which, for one thing, isn’t systematic. Most of us grow up thinking a lot of things: that you should tell the truth, that you shouldn’t harm innocent people, etc. We have a lot of “principles” that we might call on, but they don’t have a clear, systematic structure. Consequentialism purports to tell us that there is just this one fundamental idea: always do what will have the best results. And it sounds seductive. And there is something that seems credible, plausible about it. And although it seems to lead us in directions that many of us find abhorrent in certain circumstances, it is not always easy to say what exactly is wrong with it, or how we would defend the kinds of views that we find ourselves reaching for when we want to explain why we are not consequentialists.

 

So much of my own engagement with consequentialism has taken the form of trying to figure out how exactly to justify or explain certain features of everyday moral thought that do not seem to take a consequentialist form.

Véronique Munoz-DardéAnd do you feel that your attitude towards it has somewhat evolved over the years, or is it just the set of questions that have changed?

Samuel Scheffler – Well, my first book was about consequentialism1. That was an outgrowth of my PhD thesis. And in that book, consequentialism was the center of my concern: that was what the book was all about. In later decades, I haven’t engaged with consequentialism so centrally, although it surfaces from time to time. But I don’t think that my underlying attitude has changed fundamentally. I am sure that there are differences of tone and emphasis. But my attitude is, and always has been, one of trying to figure out the extent to which it is possible to resist consequentialist thought.

 

More generally, I tend to be drawn to problems that affect views I am sympathetic to. I get easily worried by people who start criticizing views that I am drawn to, and I think: “How would I try to respond to that?” The book about consequentialism was an early manifestation of that, but later things also fit into that category. If there is a difference between then and now, it is that my anti-consequentialist views have now become so firmly entrenched that there is no possibility of their ever being dislodged. This doesn’t mean that I now know how to answer all the questions. It just means that I am completely confident that if I cannot answer the questions, I will carry on with those same views. But I would really like to be able to answer the questions.

 

Another thing that is slightly different is that, when I was younger, as sometimes is the case with young people, I was drawn to trying to come up with big systematic answers in response to this big systematic theory. But as the years go by, I find myself attracted to smaller and smaller questions, and less and less susceptible to the charms of big-picture theorizing about morality as a whole, to which I was more susceptible when I wrote that book in my 20s.

Véronique Munoz-DardéOne responds to one systematic theory with another systematic theory. And now you are a bit more skeptical about that.

Samuel Scheffler – Yes.

What is egalitarianism?

Véronique Munoz-DardéI would like to switch to another issue, egalitarianism. We all worry about equality. A large part of what you have written has been on equality, both resisting a view—luck egalitarianism, as it is called in the literature—but also propounding, in reaction to it, a different, as you see it more plausible, form of egalitarianism, as a kind of social and political ideal. Could you say some words about the contrast between luck egalitarianism and your own, positive view?

Samuel Scheffler – Well, I started to write about equality out of frustration with the way that discussions of equality seemed to be going among analytic political philosophers at the time2

.  There was a great deal of discussion, in the 1980s and 1990s, about the question of what exactly it was that egalitarians wanted to distribute equally. The journals were filled with debates about what exactly the so-called “currency” of egalitarian justice was, and very intelligent people spent lots and lots of time arguing about what exactly it was that egalitarians wanted to distribute equally3.  Of course, the wider society was becoming less and less equal by every possible measure during this entire period. And so there was this kind of strange disconnect between these two discourses.

 

My frustration lay in the fact that it didn’t seem to me that, fundamentally, the value of equality consisted in the idea that there was something that should be distributed equally. And so, in that spirit, I began to write things to the effect that really equality was an ideal of social and political relations among people, and that questions of distribution were downstream from that.

 

This was not an idea that was original with me. Certainly, many philosophers in the tradition, and also contemporary philosophers, have held views that I take to be very similar to this. My own writing on equality was very much indebted to Elizabeth Anderson’s famous article4. in which she coined the term ‘luck egalitarianism’ to refer to a certain class of these distribution-focused views. Actually, she coined two terms: ‘luck egalitarianism’ and ‘equality of fortune’. Luck egalitarianism is the one that stuck, for reasons that are somewhat obscure to me, since it doesn’t have a particularly delightful ring to it, as a piece of terminology. But nonetheless, that’s the name that stuck.

 

So, I was really following in Anderson’s footsteps. And of course, she was just reminding people of what many political philosophers have thought and, more importantly, what many people who cared about equality have thought, which is that you don’t start with issues of distribution. Now, some of her criticisms and some of mine were directed specifically at this family of views that we call luck egalitarian. And, like her, I have a lot of specific criticisms of these various luck egalitarian views. But there is a more general issue about the relation between equality as a value governing distribution and equality as a social ideal. And that disagreement applies more broadly than just to the luck egalitarian family of distributive views.

 

Indeed, in recent years, there has developed suddenly this enormous literature about the relation between what is now called “distributive equality” and “relational equality.” Hardly a day goes by when there isn’t some new thing published about these two views, about whether they are compatible, about which is right, about whether you can combine them, and so on and so forth.

 

I should say at the outset that it was never my view that distribution wasn’t important, or that distributive equality wasn’t important. On the contrary. I mean, certainly in my country, we live in a time of sickening levels of economic inequality by any measure a philosopher could choose to come up with. And I certainly think that achieving more egalitarian distributive results is highly desirable.

 

But the question is ‘why exactly is equality so important?’. And I felt that some of my professional colleagues didn’t really address the “why question” very much when they wrote about these issues. They simply assumed that it was a bad thing if there was distributive inequality. Larry Temkin has a famous and representative formulation: it is simply bad in itself that some people are worse off than others through no fault of their own5.  And that sounds plausible. But why? It didn’t seem to me to be a brute evaluative truth.

 

It seemed to me instead that we care about equality because we care how people relate to one another; we care about the ways we live together in society. This is not to denigrate distributive equality. Rather, it is to say that distributive equality will be more satisfactorily defended if it can be anchored in a broader conception of how people should live together in a society or under a set of institutions.

 

I haven’t exactly addressed your question, which was more about luck egalitarianism in particular. I can do that, but this seems to be the more general or fundamental disagreement underlying it.

Véronique Munoz-DardéRight. Well, maybe you could say just one word about one particular luck egalitarian position. The term, luck egalitarianism, hasn’t exactly been embraced positively…

Samuel Scheffler – It was invented by its critics.

Véronique Munoz-Dardé That’s right. But Jerry Cohen did embrace the term, and thought that it characterized his own view. And since you have been engaged in a dispute with his type of egalitarianism, maybe you want to say a couple of words about that particular disagreement.

Samuel Scheffler – The general luck egalitarian idea, as I understand it, is that inequalities among people are objectionable just in case they derive from unchosen circumstances or from features of those individuals that are not under their control, and that they are not objectionable if they derive from features that are under their control, or if they reflect truly voluntary choices. I have a number of different concerns about that. But I should say that one special feature of Jerry Cohen’s version of the view was that, unlike some luck egalitarians, he was quite happy to contemplate the possibility that maybe no inequalities are derived from features that are under our control, and maybe there is no such thing as actual voluntary choice. And so maybe in the end we should all be equal. If so, that would be the end of the story. There would be no legitimate inequalities, at least as a matter of egalitarian justice. He didn’t commit himself to that view, but he was quite happy to think that that might be the case.

 

My own view is that both halves of the formulation that I gave are problematic. In my view, it is not obvious that inequalities are always objectionable if they derive from features of people that are beyond their control. Neither is it the case, on the other hand, that inequalities are always acceptable if they derive from features of persons that are under their control. One can try to show this by mentioning specific cases in which these things don’t seem so plausible.

 

But we shouldn’t miss what I regard as a wider underlying concern. It is, namely, that most of the people who were defending luck egalitarianism considered themselves to be on the political left. And yet, by making the issue of choice and circumstance central to the theory of justice that they were defending, they were trying to incorporate and defuse conservative criticisms of the left by showing that people on the left can take responsibility seriously6.

 

And my view is that they also inadvertently incorporated all the bad parts of conservative moralizing about, you know, people being supposedly responsible for their own plight and so on. So, luck egalitarianism is a complicated view, and I tend to think that it is fundamentally misguided, although there is not nothing to it. I mean, choice is certainly an important factor. In some cases, the fact that you don’t have any control over what happens to you is an important thing to take into account. But there are a lot of other things that are also important to take into account in deciding who should be able to have what. Anyway, this is maybe either more or less than you wanted to know. But I will stop there.

Luc FoisneauWell, maybe one more question on equality, which would be related to your position towards Rawls’s difference principle. In contrast to what luck egalitarians are doing, you have in Rawls the strong idea that the question is not so much whether I did choose or not, but rather how our society as a whole functions. Could you just say a bit more about what you would consider as a good way of defending Rawls’s view today, as far as egalitarianism is concerned, and in relation to this debate with luck egalitarianism? Should we go back to some of Rawls’s intuitions or not? I am asking this because we have many apologies, or defenses, of Rawls in France today, which is something of which you are probably not aware. And my concern would be to know what would, for you, be the best way to make an apology of Rawls today on this point.

Samuel Scheffler – Well, Rawls’s view is an extremely elaborate, complicated view. One could try to defend the specific principles of justice that he put forward, like the difference principle, which you mentioned7. But perhaps the more fundamental point, the point on which I find Rawls sympathetic, is his idea that the role of principles of justice is to regulate the basic institutions of society. He says that the so-called basic structure of society shapes our prospects as individuals, and also shapes our characters, and that it is particularly important that these institutions be brought under the regulative control of principles of justice. He asks us to think of society as a fair system of cooperation among free and equal people. And we are to ask what principles of justice citizens of a society so characterized would want to serve as the fundamental charter of their society. How would they think of the terms of cooperation that they want to live under? And it is by answering that question — and he has a device for trying to answer it — that we can specify the content of the principles of justice. Those principles are then to be treated as the fundamental normative charter of our society. They specify the fair terms of cooperation for free and equal people living together under a cooperative arrangement. And that seems to me a quite attractive and sympathetic way of thinking about the role of principles of justice.

Are moral philosophers too moralistic when they comment about politics?

Luc Foisneau The next question would be a bit more general, going from particular questions on egalitarianism to a more general question about the interest that you see in doing moral philosophy as far as politics is concerned. In France, especially, there is a recurrent objection to doing moral philosophy, according to which moral philosophy is associated with some form of moralization, or edification, you know, with saying to people what they should do and how they should live. Could you tell us your thoughts about this function of moral philosophy in its relation to politics?

Samuel Scheffler – Well, certainly it is not only in France that one hears things like that.

Luc FoisneauHow reassuring! [Laughs]

Samuel Scheffler – [Laughs] There is a kind of philosophical writing about politics which seems to me to invite the criticism. That is, sometimes, you get people who are armed with a few abstract moral principles, and they are very clever people, who are very good at arguments, and they sort of issue pronouncements about how the world should be arranged, despite the fact that they may not have any very great experience of actual political institutions, or political life. And so, up to a point, I can understand a certain kind of frustration with at least that kind of political philosophy. It is a sort of occupational hazard of being a political philosopher who thinks about things in these ways that you often just cannot resist the temptation to tell the world how it should organize itself, in line with your moral views.

 

But I would offer two defenses of morally-based political philosophy, if we can call it that. The first is that there is an important distinction between morality and moralism. I think of moralism as actually a deformation of the moral. I mean it is actually a moral vice, or a moral flaw, to be moralistic, because to be moralistic is to use moral categories, or to make moral judgments, in inappropriate circumstances, or to make moral judgments that don’t take into account the complexity of the circumstances you are addressing. And morality doesn’t endorse doing that. Morality would regard oversimplifying the circumstances as a moral flaw. So, moralism is really bad morality, as it were, or bad moral reflection. It is an occupational hazard of political philosophers to go in for this.

 

But it is not only political philosophers — and this is the second part of the defence. (I think I mentioned two words of defence, but there may be three.) Anyway, the second part of the defense is to say that the political discourse in society is full of moralizing. And it is on all sides. I mentioned earlier conservative moralizing about the poor and about social welfare programs. A very common form of political moralizing is to say that people are responsible for their own problems and that the state shouldn’t have to do anything to help them. This is maybe the most familiar kind of conservative political moralizing.

 

But the more fundamental thing I would like to say is that, in the end, there is really no decent alternative to deploying moral and evaluative categories in thinking about politics. I mean, what would the alternative be? Political arrangements are shot through with questions of value. They are questions about how we want to live together in society. And to try to think about that question without bringing to bear any values or ethical principles would just be a mistake, it seems to me. So even if we deplore crude or oversimplified applications of moral principles in a mechanical or ignorant way to the complexities of political life, it would be just as grave a fault, if not a graver one, to try to purge political discourse of talk of values and morality. And once you are talking about values and morality, you can’t really just leave it to the politicians. There is a place for people who reflect systematically, with a bit of distance from the day-to-day press of political activity, about what kinds of values and principles we want really to govern our political institutions.

Véronique Munoz-Dardé Even more generally, and taking it from the same question of the relation between morals and politics: all political philosophers hope that there is some way in which their reflection is going to be helpful, and recently you wrote a short article about a Rawlsian diagnostic of current times in the U. S8.  How do you see your own work engaging with the political scene, if at all?

Samuel Scheffler – Well, I wish I knew the answer to that question. I mean, it is a funny subject, political philosophy. In a way, one is thinking about nothing but the contemporary political scene as one is doing this work. One is not just thinking about the blueprint for some imaginary society. One is not doing science fiction. Of course you are thinking about actual politics, what it is like and what it might be like! So current political developments are always in one’s mind. I think that political philosophers are part of the general conversation of the culture, really, about political matters.

 

But it is useful to have a kind of division of discursive and deliberative labor between the people who are involved in institutional politics and activist politics on a day-to-day basis and the philosophers, who are a little more distant from that. They have the luxury of reflecting in a more leisurely and more systematic way about the issues that are raised by contemporary developments. But this is not a sharp dividing line. There are times when there is movement across the line in both directions.

 

In the United States, there is currently a big movement to encourage philosophers to do more of what they call ‘public philosophy’. And I’m of two minds about that, partly because it can be an invitation to moralizing in a bad sense. But on the other hand, philosophers are people, too, and they also are citizens and they also have things to say and they have their own special expertise. So, there are times to intervene directly.

 

But the special contribution of philosophers is usually not going to come from their having something quite distinctive to say about some immediate development in the politics of the day. If they do have something especially valuable to say about that, it may simply be because they are intelligent people with some insights about what is going on. But their distinctively philosophical contributions are likely to come at a more abstract level.

 

So one is always trying to juggle one’s interest in the day-to-day events with the sense that one’s special qualification, if one has such a thing, is to think about issues in a more distanced, reflective, theoretical way, which may then percolate down into society in ways we cannot predict. I mean, philosophical ideas actually have lots of influence. But the influence doesn’t always come from philosophers writing pieces in the newspapers or giving their opinions about the issues of the day.

Why does the collective afterlife matter?

Véronique Munoz-DardéLet us turn to something which is more recent in your work: the afterlife. You have talked about how collective afterlife matters to us. It matters to us in a special way. We are resigned to our own death, and to that of the people around us, but it would be very troubling if humanity were to disappear entirely. Would you like to say some words about this more recent part of your work?

Samuel Scheffler – Sure. Well, a few years ago, I published a short book based on a series of lectures with the title Death and the Afterlife9.  The central thought in that book is that it matters to us much more than we often recognize that human life should continue after we ourselves are dead and gone. So, this is the collective afterlife of which I speak. It is not a personal afterlife. I assume that, when I die, that is the end of it for me. But other people will go on living, and that is the collective afterlife. And I think that most people assume that that is the way things are going to go—although nowadays there are more and more reasons to wonder how long the collective afterlife is going to be, unfortunately.

 

I was interested in exploring the idea that it matters to us that human life should continue after we ourselves are gone. A lot of the book is taken up with trying to persuade people that this is so. I do this by using a thought experiment in which you are asked to imagine that humanity as a whole has become infertile and people are just dying out. There is no asteroid colliding with the Earth. There isn’t going to be a big trauma. It is just that people are not going to have children anymore, and so gradually humanity will fade away. So, how would you feel if you were living in those conditions?

 

I invite people to agree with me that it would be pretty dismal to be living in those conditions, that it would actually be deeply depressing. There are many forms of activity that would no longer seem worthwhile pursuing. And people would be, you know, experiencing a kind of grief, or depression, or anxiety. Maybe not absolutely everyone. People’s reactions might differ a bit. But I think that there would be widespread distress and despair and depression about this prospect of humanity dying out.

 

And this is an interesting fact. As you say, we all know that we are going to die. And it is not exactly as if we are happy about that. But for most of us, most of the time, we still go on living our lives. And we don’t think that it is worthless to do the things that we do. We try to find meaningful pursuits. But if humanity as a whole were going to disappear imminently, it is not at all clear what would even be worth doing. And that means that, in some ways, it seems to matter to us—only in some ways, but still—more that new people should come to existence than that the people we know and love, including ourselves, should go on living.

 

I mean, we know it is not just us, but everyone we love, who is going to die. Yet we carry on. But the thought that no new people would come to existence… So it seems like we really need those new people, and we care about them. But we don’t tend to think about things that way, and it is an interesting question what it shows about us.

 

One thing I think it shows is that we have more of what we might think of as a historicist sensibility than we like to think that we have. There have been societies and times and places in which people had more of a historicist sensibility than we do. That is, they were much more conscious of their relations to their ancestors and their descendants. They saw themselves as part of an ongoing chain of generations, an ongoing succession of human lives. And for them, it wouldn’t have seemed strange at all, I think, to think that the collective afterlife matters.

 

But we, modern, individualist people, we think that what matters is what goes on within the confines of your life and the experiences that you have. And that after you are dead, you are dead, and what difference does it make what happens then? But I think that what these thought experiments suggest is that we actually have much more of a historicist sensibility than we think we have. That is, we are, even if only implicitly, much more concerned with our place in the chain of generations than we perhaps like to think. And this is an interesting thought, and one which I have tried to explore a bit. But there is lots more to be said about it.

Luc Foisneau & Véronique Munoz-Dardé Thank you very much!

Samuel Scheffler – Thank you!

Unfold notes and references
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1

Samuel Scheffler, The Rejection of Consequentialism. A philosophical investigation of the considerations underlying rival moral considerations, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1994 (2nd edition) [online].

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2

Samuel Scheffler, Equality and Tradition. Questions of Value in Moral and Political Theory, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2012.

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3

See, for example, Ronald Dworkin, “What is Equality? Part I: Equality of Welfare”, Philosophy & Public Affairs, 1981, Vol. 10, n° 3, pp. 185-246 [online], and “What is Equality? Part II: Equality of Resources”, Philosophy & Public Affairs, 1981, Vol. 10, n° 4, pp. 283-345 [online].

Both of these essays are reprinted in Dworkin’s Sovereign Virtue (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000), pp. 11-64 and 65-119 respectively [online]. 

See also G.A. Cohen, “On the Currency of Egalitarian Justice,” Ethics, 1989, Vol. 99, n° 4, pp. 906-944 [online].

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4

Elizabeth Anderson, “What is the Point of Equality?”, Ethics, 1999, Vol. 109, n° 2, pp. 287-337 [online]. 

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5

See Larry Temkin, Inequality, New York, Oxford University Press, 1993, p. 200 [online].

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6

Thus, G.A. Cohen says, in “On the Currency of Egalitarian Justice” (art. cit., p. 933), 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.”

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7

John Rawls, A Theory of Justice, Cambridge (Mass.), Harvard University Press, 1999 (revised edition) [online].

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8

Samuel Scheffler, “The Rawlsian Diagnosis of Donald Trump”, Boston Review, February 12th, 2019 [online].

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9

Samuel Scheffler, Death and the Afterlife, edited and introduced by Niko Kolodny, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2013 [online].