G. A. Cohen

Equal Access to Advantage

Kelly Robbins

Egalitarianism – Phil 955

  1. Non-egalitarian objections [Question 1]
    1. pluralism
    2. non-egalitarian objections
      1. recommend a qualified or weak equalisandum
      2. do not recommend a new equalisandum
    3. objections to equalizing down are non-egalitarian objections
  2. Rawls
    1. offensive tastes objection (racism, etc.)
      1. recommends equality of inoffensive welfare
    2. expensive tastes objection
      1. recommends equal opportunity for welfare
    3. expensive tastes as an objection to equality of resources [Question 2]
  3. Dworkin
    1. relocating Dworkin’s preference/resource cut
    2. double misfortunes case
      1. egalitarian intuitions against equality of welfare (Tiny Tim)
      2. egalitarian intuitions against equality of resource (arm pain, arthritis, heating bills) [Question 3]
    3. the appropriate egalitarian cut cannot be welfare(preference)/resource
    4. Cohen’s proposal: choice/luck (no choice)
    5. expensive taste cases where the relocation will matter [Question 4]
    6. obsessions or “handicap” tastes
      1. preference disidentification indicates, imperfectly, the presence of choice
    7. conclusions: Dworkin’s cut is plausible only insofar as it tracks the choice/luck distinction; new distinction abolishes differences between resources and utility
      1. Adrian & Claude case (market valued occupational capabilities vs valued leisure preferences)
  4. Scanlon
    1. partial objectivity of egalitarian evaluations
      1. defeats equal opportunity for welfare but not equal access to advantage
    2. religious guilt objection
    3. adjust for actual AND counterfactual choice
      1. excuse from compensation inequalities that are due to (actual) choice AND that a person would not (counterfactually) choose to change
    4. Cohen’s final proposal: choice & counterfactual choice/no choice
      1. will compensate habitual expensive preferences and the music lover, not the sufferer of religious guilt
      2. compensating builders of temples?
    5. idiosyncratic preferences
  5. Sen and a Sketch of Equal Access to Advantage
    1. relocation of the cut identifies something “between” resources and welfare
    2. MIDFARE, where goods:
      1. endow people with opportunities (capabilities)
      2. contribute to valuable activities and, indirectly, desirable states (functionings)
      3. directly contribute to desirable states (babies, malaria) [Question 5]
    3. ambiguities in ‘capabilities’ and ‘functionings’ [Question 6]
    4. disambiguated use of ‘access’ and ‘advantage’
      1. 'access’ denotes a special understanding of ‘opportunity’ or ‘capability’
      2. ‘advantage’ denotes a broader understanding of ‘functionings’ to include all of midfare
    5. freedom
      1. ambiguities
      2. metaphysical implications for egalitarianism