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Kai Nielsen. Radical Egalitarianism. Justice. Formal justice is the idea of treating like cases alike. What makes cases “alike”? What are the criteria appealed to for ascertaining when like cases are alike?. Some criteria of “alikeness”. Rights Desert Needs. Rights.

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kai nielsen

Kai Nielsen

Radical Egalitarianism

justice
Justice
  • Formal justice is the idea of treating like cases alike.
    • What makes cases “alike”?
    • What are the criteria appealed to for ascertaining when like cases are alike?
rights
Rights
  • What counts as rights?
    • Conservatives are more stringent on this question (think “negative freedoms”)
    • Liberals are more expansive (think “positive freedoms”)

Is accessible, affordable health care a right?

rights5
Rights
  • For Nielsen, “[sticking] to negative rights [as our conceptualization of equal rights] will predictably lead to very unequal distributions of wealth, power, and well-being.”
rights6
Rights
  • How do conservatives explain/justify the fact that there are “great substantive inequalities in legal protection and political power even though there is formal legal and political equality?”
  • For Nielsen “substantive legal and political equality [are] in reality importantly dependent on economic factors” and, therefore, formal legal and political equality “are not nearly sufficient conditions for equality.”
rights7
Rights
  • Do people have a right to equal portions of certain social (as opposed to legal and political) goods? If so, which ones?
desert
Desert
  • What should count in judgments of desert?
    • Effort?
    • Talent?
    • Contribution?
    • Luck?
needs
Needs
  • What should count as a “need”?
  • Do/should needs ever become rights?
equality legal political and social
Equality (legal, political, and social)
  • “An egalitarian is committed to trying to provide the social basis for an equality of condition for all human beings. The ideal…is to provide the social basis for an equality of life prospects such that there cannot be anything like the vast disparities in whole life prospects that exist now.”
interference with liberty
Interference with liberty?
  • Conservatives argue that providing equality of whole life prospects is unfair, unjust since it will interfere with liberty. Thus, we must simply live with these disparities in life prospects.
non interference with liberty
Non-interference with liberty
  • What if the interference in family matters, violations of individual rights, and the generally posited undermining of liberty were not consequences of equality?
    • For some (most?) conservatives, especially, say, someone like Nozick, would still deem equality as unjust.
nielsen s conclusion
Nielsen’s conclusion
  • “Equality, liberty, autonomy, democracy, and justice come as a packaged deal.”
  • Therefore, “a certain kind of equality is a right” and “we must not construct our lives together in such a way that the needs of any human being are simply ignored.”
the rub for conservatives
The rub for conservatives
  • The horror of horrors for conservatives is any attempt to bring about equality of outcome.
  • For egalitarians (at least radical egalitarians), then, justice is a forward looking notion. For conservatives it is a backward looking notion.
  • “The conservative concern with distribution is only to try to make it the case that everyone gets her due which is, tautologically, what she deserves or is otherwise entitled to.”
slide15
So…
  • Does justice require that we simply allow the chips to fall as and where they may? Or does justice require some correction for imbalances?