Equality and priority
Parfit (Derek)
Source: Ratio, vol. 10, no. 3 (December, 1997), pp. 202-221
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

  1. In his article "Nagel (Thomas) - Equality", Thomas Nagel imagines that he has two children, one healthy and happy, the other suffering from some painful handicap. Nagel's family could either move to a city where the second child could receive special treatment, or move to a suburb where the first child would flourish. Nagel writes:
      This is a difficult choice on any view. To make it a test for the value of equality, I want to suppose that the case has the following feature: the gain to the first child of moving to the suburb is substantially greater than the gain to the second child of moving to the city.
  2. He then comments:
      If one chose to move to the city, it would be an egalitarian decision. It is more urgent to benefit the second child, even though the benefit we can give him is less than the benefit we can give to the first child.
  3. My aim, in this paper, is to discuss this kind of reasoning.

Comment:

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