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Philosophy 2801F/G Chapter Notes -Amos T. Akerman, Basic Income, Egalitarianism

Course Code
PHIL 2801F/G

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Ambition sensitive distributive scheme everyone has the same naural talents
A successful auction meets the envy tests and makes each person pay for the costs of
their own choices
Such a distributive shceme would be justice even though it allows some inequality in
No one can claim to be treated with less consideration than another in the distribution
of resources for if someone had preferred another person’s bundle of social goods she
could have bid for it as well
Unfortunately the auction will only meet the envy test if we assume that no one id
disadvantaged in terms of natural assets
Before the auction we give the disadvantaged enough social goods to compensate for
their unchosen inequality in natural assets. Once that is done we give each person an
equal share of the remaining resoureces to use in accordance with their choices in the
But that goal is impossible to achieve for no amount of social goods will fuly
compensate for certain natural disadvantages
Since each additional bit of money can help the severely retarded person yet is never
enough to fully equalize circumstances we would be required to give all our resources to
people with such handicaps leaving nothing foreveryone else
Our circumstance affect our ability to pursue out ambitions, that is why they are morally
important, why inequalities in them matter
If in trying to equalize the means we precent anyone from achieving their ends then we
have failed completely
Dworkin’s proposal is similar to Rawls idea of an orginal position, we are to imagine
people behind a mofidied veil of ignorance
It is irrational to not provide any protection against the calamities that may befall you
The amount of societies resources that we dedicate to compensating for natural
disadvantages is limited to the coverage people would buy through premiums paid out
for their initial bundle
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Hopefully everyone can recognize and accept the fairness of letting their compensation
be determined by what they would have chosen in such a hypothetical position of
Those who were fortunate in the natural lottery would be forced to be as produve as
possible in order to pay the high premiums they hypothetically bought against natural
Hence, equal concern for both the handicapped and the talented equires something
other than miximal redistribution to the handicapped even though it will leave the
handicapped envying the talented
If we cannot fully equalize real world circumstances then what else can we do to live up
to our convictions about the arbitrariness of one’s place in the distribution of natural
and social circumstances
We identify a just distribution of resources by imagining an equal intital share of
resources which is then modified over tiem as a result of people’s hypothetical auction
choices and hypothetical insurance policies
The tax system can only approximate the results of the insurance scheme, for two
1. There is no way of measuring what people’s relative advantages and disadvantages
are it would be impossible to make these determinations and would involve a
gross violation of priovacy to even try
2. Natural handicapps are not the only source of unequal circumstances
3. We want people’s fate to be determined by the choices they make from a fair and
equitable starting point, but the idea of an equal starting point includes not only an
achievable compensation for uneqla endowment but also an unachievable
knowledge of future events
4. Inevitable that some people are undeservedly penalized for their unfortunate
circumstances, while others are undeservedly subsidized for the costs of their
5. A just distribution must identify which aspects of any person’;s economic position
flow from his choices and which from advantages and disadvantages that we not
matters if choice
Argues that on any plausible account of the sort of hypothetical insrance people would
buy against natural misfortunes, the coverage would be well above what is offered to
the disabled, sick or unskilled in the US or Britain today
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