Whether social justice requires some form of economic equality and, if so, to what extent it does are deeply controversial questions. Many contemporary political philosophers have argued that citizens have a demanding duty to support efforts to achieve some form of economic equality in their own political community (Thomas Nagel offers a powerful version of this sort of argument.) These arguments have seemed to some, however, to neglect other crucial considerations: the person's natural rights against interference; what people deserve (and why); the value of community; and, perhaps, the relevance of considerations of need. And, they argue that, once we take these considerations into account, we see that realizing economic equality among one's fellow citizens is not a demanding duty of justice. Others have responded on behalf of the case for economic equality, arguing that each of these considerations, properly understood, actually supports the case for a demanding duty to achieve some form of equality. This course will examine the contemporary debates about whether these several considerations argue against or provide support for the claim that social justice requires economic equality. But there will also be one major theme running throughout the course, to which we will keep returning: What is the nature of the ideal of equality, and what does it require of society?
Requisite:Two courses in Philosophy or consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Visiting Professor Koltonski.