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Persons, Interests, and Justice$
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Nils Holtug

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199580170

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199580170.001.0001

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(p.202) 8 Prioritarianism
Persons, Interests, and Justice

Nils Holtug (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

According to prioritarianism, outcome value is an additive function of weighted individual welfare, where increases in welfare are weighted such that they gain a greater moral value, the worse off the individual is to whom they accrue. This view differs from egalitarianism in that it does not take equality to have intrinsic value. Various objections to prioritarianism are considered, including the claim that (a) the Levelling Down Objection does not serve to distinguish prioritarianism from egalitarianism, (b) prioritarianism is itself vulnerable to the person‐affecting idea that motivates the Levelling Down Objection, (c) prioritarianism fails to account for some firmly held intuitions about relational justice and (d) prioritarianism does not appropriately reflect the virtue on which it is based, namely that of compassion. It is argued that none of these objections is convincing and that prioritarianism remains a plausible theory of justice.

Keywords:   prioritarianism, levelling down objection, person‐affecting values, relational justice, leximin, sufficientarianism, aggregation, moral standing

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