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Against Institutional Luck Egalitarianism

by Rekha Nath

Kok-Chor Tan has recently defended a novel theory of egalitarian distributive justice, institutional luck egalitarianism (ILE). On this theory, it is unjust for institutions to favor some individuals over others based on matters of luck. Tan takes his theory to preserve the intuitive appeal of luck egalitarianism while avoiding what he regards as absurd implications that face other versions of luck egalitarianism. Despite the centrality of the concept of institutional influence to his theory, Tan never spells out precisely what it means for an inequality to be produced by an institution. In this paper, I consider different conceptions of institutional influence that ILE might employ. It appears that however this concept is construed, ILE has serious problems. On some conceptions, the luck egalitarian character of the theory is undermined. On others, the theory gives rise to precisely the sorts of absurd implications facing other versions of luck egalitarianism that Tan takes his theory to avoid.

ISSN 1559-3061
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