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Setting Health-Care PrioritiesWhat Ethical Theories Tell Us$
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Torbjörn Tännsjö

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190946883

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190946883.001.0001

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(p.29) 4 Egalitarianism
Setting Health-Care Priorities

Torbjörn Tännsjö

Oxford University Press

The idea that it is bad for a person when someone else is better off is presented. If taken seriously, this means that one should maximize not the sum total of happiness but a weighed sum where the weights for each person are given with reference to a position in relation to others with regard to happiness. This is egalitarianism. The egalitarian idea presupposes that interpersonal comparisons of happiness are possible and it takes for granted the distinction between persons. Yet, while it acknowledges that compensation within lives is morally unproblematic, and accepts some compensation between lives, the latter kind of compensation comes with a moral price whenever it means that increments fall on those who are better off rather on those who are worse off (comparatively speaking). Since compensation within lives is considered morally acceptable it is maintained that when we assess how badly off a person is, in relation to others, we focus on their entire lives rather than on time-slice of them.

Keywords:   egalitarianism, time-slice, entire lives

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