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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter May 14, 2020

Luck, Nature and Institutions

Cynthia A. Stark

Abstract

In addition to having an institutional site or scope, a theory of distributive justice might also have an institutional ‘reach’ or currency. It has the first when it applies to only social (and not natural) phenomena. It has the second when it distributes only socially produced (and not naturally occurring) goods. One objection to luck egalitarianism is that it has absurd implications. In response, Tan has defended a luck egalitarian account that has a strictly institutional reach. I argue, first, that Tan’s view contains two fatal ambiguities and, second, that, to be sound, it requires an institutional currency. This second argument implies that virtually all extant luck egalitarian currencies are incompatible with his approach. I argue, third, that the alleged absurd implications often have little to do with the extent of luck egalitarianism’s reach.

Acknowledgements

Thanks to the anonymous referees for this journal and another journal for their very helpful suggestions. Thanks, also, to Peter Vallentyne for valuable comments on an earlier version of this paper. I also owe thanks to Sam Bruton, Andrew I. Cohen, Andrew Courtwright, Adam Curaton, Richard Dean, Sarah Holtman, Bruce Landesman, Sean McKeever, Kok-Chor Tan, Brian Thomas and Jonathan Wolff for their feedback on an earlier paper that contained some of the themes of this paper. I am especially indebted to Jonathan Quong for detailed written comments on that earlier paper.

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Published Online: 2020-05-14
Published in Print: 2021-10-26

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