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The Legacy of Ronald Dworkin$
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Wil Waluchow and Stefan Sciaraffa

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190466411

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190466411.001.0001

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Inheritance and Hypothetical Insurance

Inheritance and Hypothetical Insurance

(p.99) 5 Inheritance and Hypothetical Insurance
The Legacy of Ronald Dworkin

Daniel Halliday

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines Ronald Dworkin’s treatment of inherited wealth. Dworkin’s contentions are that (1) the goal of restricting bequests is to prevent the formation of hierarchies of social class, and (2) this goal can be pursued through a progressive estate tax. This chapter seeks to support Dworkin’s commitment to the diagnostic significance of class injustice, but finds problems with his attempt to defend progressive estate taxation as a model of hypothetical insurance choices. After identifying various difficulties with Dworkin’s actual approach, the paper ends on a more positive note: Dworkin’s concern to address class hierarchies can be adapted so that an inheritance tax gains support from the various principles that make up the liberty/constraint system in chapter three of Sovereign Virtue, principles which work alongside the envy test and hypothetical insurance approach.

Keywords:   inheritance, class hierarchy, brute luck, hypothetical insurance, independence principle, estate tax

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