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Jonathan Wolff and Avner de-Shalit

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199278268

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199278268.001.0001

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Priority to the Least Advantaged

Priority to the Least Advantaged

Chapter:
(p.155) Chapter 9 Priority to the Least Advantaged
Source:
Disadvantage
Author(s):

Jonathan Wolff (Contributor Webpage)

Avner De-Shalit

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199278268.003.0010

This chapter explores the implications of ‘priority to the worst off’. It is often argued that such a policy is counter-intuitive in that it can require the diversion of a great deal of resources to those who can barely benefit. Therefore, many theorists argue that sometimes the claims of the worst off can be overridden. In response, it is argued that abandoning the worst off is morally unacceptable; indeed one way of helping the worst off is to spend resources on research into cost-effective means of improving their lives. A second objection is that priority to the worst off appears to imply ignoring the claims of others who are somewhat better off. In response, it is accepted that these interests should be met. However, splitting society into those who give and those who receive stigmatizes the badly off and undermines the affiliation of everyone in society. Thus, it is consistent with priority to the worst off that the slightly better off, and in fact everyone in society, should receive something from the state.

Keywords:   affiliation, morality, worst off, research, stigma

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