Home > Philosophy > Are you lucky?

Are you lucky?


The issues related to distributive justice have bothered many of us . I assume that as long as you have the capacity for empathy, there was a time when you felt that the world is simply unjust. Nonetheless, when qualifying what inequalities are permitted to exist, there is a tendency to assume that as long as an individual is responsible for those inequalities, then it might be permissible for the world to be somewhat unjust. After all, if we consider that a meritocratic system is the best system available for distributive justice, then it would be unacceptable to grant rewards solely on the basis of chance. For example, we would perceive an unbalance when a person who has done nothing to achieve a reward is given the reward with no strings attached. As long as that person has no disadvantages arising from poor economic and social circumstances or physical and mental ailments, we expect him to work, either intellectually or manually, in order to achieve some welfare in his life. Thus, the lazy should have no claims for social and economic equality.

This view, also known as luck egalitarianism,  fits perfectly with many egalitarian philosophers, including Roemer and Cohen. Rewards must be given for the responsible choices people make, and any type of mishap caused by unmade decisions that are not under control, such as congenital disability, should be compensated. However, there is a problem: Luck egalitarianism is fluff as long as there is no resolution to the existence of free will. If there is no resolution to free will, then how can the doctrine of luck egalitarianism say for what choices should people be held responsible? Consider the case of homeless children in Odessa, Ukraine:

From left to right: Slavic Berestov, 12 years, Vladislav Bernicov, 12 years, and Janna Potapnekova, 14 years, smoking cigarettes in an underground sewerage. Source:http://censor.net.ua/ru/photo_news/view/151861/deti_odesskih_podzemeliyi_shokiruyuschiyi_fotoreportaj

If you look at these three children, can you hold them responsible for the situation they are in? Some of you would say that an unwanted child, born in a poor family, in circumstances that  encourage coolness and belligerence, has a higher likelihood of screwing up their lives, so they can probably be only partially responsible for who they are. Since luck egalitarianism aims at compensating people who had a large share of bad luck in their lives, it has to find a way that would discern between choice and non-choice, hence it has to inevitably deal with the problem of free will. Until a solution is found, it can be considered flawed on both metaphysical and practical levels.

Advertisements
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s