Does the free market determine how much different people should receive? Or does justice require everyone to have the same? What would an equal society aim to equalize anyway? This course presents some of the key views on this topic and provides you the opportunity to explore and discuss them.
Egalitarianism is in some way the default view of distributive justice; the rules of society should work to the benefit of everyone. But does that mean everyone should have the same as everyone else? Most sophisticated egalitarians would accept some degree of inequality, but how much and for what reason?
Does egalitarian justice require the abolition of private property? Or is a form of redistributive capitalism compatible with equality? When we are approaching these questions, what is it the distribution of that should concern us? Income, wealth, happiness and welfare are some obvious answers. However, each has its own problems, leading political philosophers to develop other metrics of justice.
Others, however, consider some forms of inequalities as perfectly acceptable. They may believe, for instance, that the free market provides the right distributive outcome. But why might that be? Is it because the market produces the best consequences? Or is it because the market gives people what they deserve? Or do we have to accept market outcomes because doing otherwise fails to respect their rights? Alternatively, should we focus more on giving people what they need rather than equal amounts of anything?
This short course considers which of these principles gives the most appealing answer to the question ‘who should get what?’ and the key philosophical and policy debates that follow. It ends with consideration of notable policy disputes and where the theories considered stand on them.
It will include tutor-led discussion, considering several theories of distributive justice which attempt to answer to the important question of who should get what.
This lecture outlines some of the arguments that are covered on the course:
(Note that this is a public lecture, not an example of a video from the course)