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Title: Equality, Choice, and Alternatives
Subtitle: Why Reasonable Avoidability Matters
Author(s): ELFORD, Gideon
Journal: Ethical Perspectives
Volume: 19    Issue: 3   Date: 2012   
Pages: 445-468
DOI: 10.2143/EP.19.3.2172299

Abstract :
For many forms of luck egalitarianism the distinction between choices and circumstances is central. Under such views, inequalities that obtain in virtue of individuals’ circumstances are unfair or unjust, whereas inequalities traceable to individuals’ own responsible choices are fair or just. An important development of the luck egalitarian view invokes the notion that consequences must be reasonably avoidable in order to reflect just inequality. A reasonable avoidability condition entails that the mere fact that some set of consequences is the foreseeable outcome of a responsible choice is insufficient to justify holding an individual liable for the said set of consequences; the circumstances in which that choice was made also matter. Despite this development, the significance of reasonable avoidability has been frequently ignored in work on luck egalitarianism, both critical and supportive. Furthermore, in work that does reflect on reasonable avoidability, its significance is often called into question. As a corrective, the present contribution reasserts the importance of a reasonable avoidability condition and explains how it ought to be understood. In particular, I endeavour to demonstrate the respect in which the importance of a reasonable avoidability condition is implied by the very distinction between choice and circumstance that is at the heart of many forms of luck egalitarianism.

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