Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Philosophy Bites: Egalitarianism

In the latest version of Philosophy Bites, Nigel Warburton and David Edmonds speak with G. A. Cohen about egalitarianism. A very interesting subject, especially in general, but somehow this interview is pulled towards an alleged hypocrisy. How can an egalitarian justify that he is rich?

When you see a difference between two people and you can say that the other is objectively better off, and it is not the first's own doing or choice to be worse off, the way he is, that inequality. It is the view of the egalitarian that such is an injustice that needs redress. This is not necessarily about wealth. There are many good things in life and they are not commensurable, especially between different individuals.

Why must the individual egalitarian address this? Of course he can make some difference, but more so the community, alternately the state can. I am thinking of the situation when there is a famine. Individuals can organize charity, but if the general economy is entirely liberal and entrepreneurs are still exporting food away from the struck country, as this is their commercial right - that is a worse injustice.

Earlier Philosophy Bites: Skepticism and Thought experiments (and Avicenna).

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