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Social Theory and Practice

Volume 46, Issue 4, October 2020

David V. Axelsen, Lasse Nielsen
Pages 657-679

Harsh and Disrespectful
Rescuing Moral Agency from Luck and Choice

Many policies hinge on determining whether someone’s situation is due to luck or choice. In political philosophy, this prevalence is mirrored by luck egalitarian theories. But overemphasizing the distinction between luck and choice will lead to tensions with the value of moral agency, on which the distinction is grounded. Here, we argue that the two most common contemporary critiques of luck egalitarianism, holding it to be harsh and disrespectful are best understood as illustrating exactly this tension. Elaborating on this conflict, we argue that it should lead us to modify how luck and choice are used in theories of justice.

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