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If You're an Egalitarian, How Come You're so Rich?

G. A. Cohen
The Journal of Ethics
Vol. 4, No. 1/2, Rights, Equality, and Liberty Universidad Torcuato Di Tella Law and Philosophy Lectures 1995-1997 (Jan. - Mar., 2000), pp. 1-26
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25115633
Page Count: 26
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If You're an Egalitarian, How Come You're so Rich?
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Abstract

Many people, including many egalitarian political philosophers, profess a belief in equality while enjoying high incomes of which they devote very little to egalitarian purposes. The article critically examines ways of resolving the putative inconsistency in the stance of these people, in particular, that favouring an egalitarian society has no implications for behaviour in an unequal one; that what's bad about inequality is a social division that philanthropy cannot reduce; that private action cannot ensure that others have good lives; that private action can only achieve a "drop in the ocean"; that private effort is not called for, since justice is a matter for the state to enforce; that private effort cannot remove the fundamental injustice, which is inequality of power; and that private effort involves an unreasonably large psychological burden.

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