Reparations for Luck Egalitarians
Journal of Social Philosophy, Vol. 37, No. 3, pp. 423-440, 2006
General Subserie Research Paper No. 2016-09
19 Pages Posted: 2 Apr 2012 Last revised: 20 Oct 2016
Date Written: 2006
In contemporary debates on distributive justice, Ronald Dworkin’s equality of resources is regarded as one of the canonical theories, if not the most important liberal egalitarian theory today. At the heart of Dworkin’s egalitarianism is the dichotomy between endowment and choice: It is unjust if people are disadvantaged by inequalities in their endowments but it is equally unjust that others have to pay for the costs of one’s choices.
To what extent can Dworkin’s theory of distributive justice — focusing on inequalities here and now — be helpful in a defense of reparation policies — primarily focusing on historic injustices? Time and again, the association is made between the history of slavery in the United States and the current position of African Americans, and more and more egalitarian policies are justified in terms of reparations for past injustice. The aim of this paper is to further develop the concept of social endowments in Dworkin’s equality of resources in such way that it can be used to defend reparation policies.
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