Research Seminar

Larry Temkin: Equality as Comparative Fairness

Date: 20 May 2015
Time: 10:00–12:00

Larry Temkin, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences. The State University of New Jersey.


The goal of this talk is modest. It is simply to help illuminate the nature of egalitarianism. More particularly, I aim to show what certain egalitarians are committed to, and to suggest, though certainly not prove, that equality, as these egalitarians understand it, is an important normative ideal that cannot simply be ignored in moral deliberations.

In doing this, I will distinguish between different kinds of egalitarian positions, and indicate the type of egalitarianism with which I am concerned, which I call equality as comparative fairness. I will discuss the relations between equality, fairness, luck, and responsibility, and defend egalitarianism against rival views that focus on subsistence, sufficiency, or compassion. I will also defend egalitarianism against the leveling down objection, and illustrate egalitarianism’s distinct appeal, in contrast to prioritarianism’s.

Read more about Larry Temkin

Larry Temkin has done a lot of research on inequality. In this film you can hear him talk about "Global Poverty: Why should we care?", beginning from about 5 minutes.


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