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Grazer Philosophische Studien

Volume 27, 1986

Kai Nielsen
Pages 177-197

Counting the Costs of Equality

Conservative criticisms of egalitarianism are examined. Entitlement and desert based accounts of justice are assessed. Nisbet's, Nozick's and Flew's accounts, as paradigms of conservative views, are criticized and liberal egalitarian and radical egalitarian accounts of justice, in their responses to conservatism, are contrasted and a defense is provided for radical egalitarianism. A secure place for entitlements is found within an egalitarian frame work. Liberty and equality are shown to be so reciprocally related that one cannot flourish without the other and socialism and egalitarianism are shown not to be enemies of liberty. Personal property remains intact under socialism but private productive property does not. But the non-existence of the latter is perfectly compatible with the existence of the full range of basic liberties. Following a coherentist methodology respect for entitlements, for liberty and a commitment to equality are shown to be in reflective equilibrium.

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