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Human Rights and Human Well-Being$
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William Talbott

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195173482

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195173482.001.0001

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What Is Well-Being? What Is Equity?

What Is Well-Being? What Is Equity?

Chapter:
(p.71) FOUR What Is Well-Being? What Is Equity?
Source:
Human Rights and Human Well-Being
Author(s):

William J. Talbott (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195173482.003.0004

This chapter replies to some standard objections to consequentialist moral principle, including the problem of expensive tastes, and R. Dworkin’s circularity objection. The chapter compares the main principle with Rawls’s resource-based theory of primary goods and the capabilities theories of Nussbaum and Sen. It then compares the main principle with J. S. Mill’s utilitarian principle and Rawls’s maximin expectation principle. This requires a further development of the idea of life prospects. The chapter then shows that both Mill’s and Rawls’s principles have a distributional blindspot and explains why the main principle does not. As a heuristic for making determinations of the equitable promotion of life prospects, the chapter defines an expanded original position that makes it possible to extend the application of the main principle extend beyond the application of Rawls’s principles to include those with special health care needs and those with severe mental or physical impairments. The chapter explains why the main principle is prioritarian, rather than egalitarian or sufficientarian. It explains how the application of the main principle to social practices solves the problem of descriptive relativity. Finally, he explains his reasons for classifying the main principle as a consequentialist principle of moral improvement.

Keywords:   capabilities, consequentialism, descriptive relativity, egalitarianism, equity, fudge factor, insurance effect, life prospects, main principle, primary goods, sufficientarianism, unconscionability exception, well-being

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