Equality vs. Priority: How Relevant is the Distinction

July 2015
in Economics and Philosophy 31(2)

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This paper questions the distinction between egalitarianism and prioritarianism, arguing that it is important to separate the reasons for particular social preferences from the contents of these preferences, that it is possible to like equality and separability simultaneously, and that some egalitarians and prioritarians may therefore share the same social preferences (though for different reasons). The case of risky prospects, for which Broome has proposed an interesting example meant to show that egalitarians and prioritarians cannot share the same preferences, is scrutinized. The levelling down objection is also examined.