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Against Absolute Goodness$
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Richard Kraut

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199844463

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199844463.001.0001

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Is Equality Absolutely Good?

Is Equality Absolutely Good?

(p.140) Chapter 24 Is Equality Absolutely Good?
Against Absolute Goodness

Richard Kraut

Oxford University Press

Some philosophers hold that it should be a matter of concern or regret that human beings are unequal in certain respects, and they think that we should strive, with the help of laws and political institutions, to diminish these inequalities—if possible, to eliminate them. The poor person, through sheer bad luck, has too few instrumental benefits, whereas those who are not poor have, through sheer good luck, much more than is instrumentally good for them. It is that kind of difference—a difference in what is good for or bad for people—that is thought by some to be objectionable. It is not merely that the poor have so little of what is good for them. What disturbs a certain kind of egalitarian, in addition, is that the poor have so much less of what is good for them than others do. This issue has no bearing on the question this chapter is investigating: should we value certain things because they are, quite simply, good? But that answer needs defense, because it might be tempting to suppose that if the egalitarian just described is right, then equality of well-being is, quite simply, a good thing.

Keywords:   equality, well-being, absolute goodness, egalitarian

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