Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Prioritarianism

I’m a Political Theorist, and I Hate the “Equality”/”Equity” Chart

Have you seen it? There’s this chart that goes around and around the internet, with three people of different heights attempting to watch a baseball game. I hate it so much, but I suppose I have to show it to you, in case you’re not familiar:

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Leftism and Determinism Part I

A thought occurred to me today–it is impossible to be a leftist without also being a determinist. Here’s why.

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Distribution of Health

An interesting topic arose in one of my seminars today–given a scarce amount of health resources, how do we determine whom we provide care to and whom we do not? Forget for a moment the distribution of wealth, what about the distribution of health? I would like to give my answer to that question today.

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Keynesian Utilitarianism

In A Theory of Justice, John Rawls draws a hard distinction between his prioritarian conception of justice and the utilitarian one. We have mentioned prioritarianism in the past, and indeed, this post is a bit of a synthesis of that post with this other one. Prioritarianism is the notion that a just society always tries to improve the welfare of the worst off before anyone else. In other words, the welfare of the poorest is prioritised. In contrast, utilitarianism is about maximising total welfare, regardless of the distribution. These theories seem at odds (indeed, Rawls wrote about utilitarianism as though he were very much at odds with it). Yet, if we adopt a few Keynesian economic principles, I believe the gap can be closed and the two theories shown to lead to more or less synonymous societies, or at least significantly more similar societies than is presently thought.

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Why the Welfare State?

There’s a set of institutions that most western countries have that we collectively call “the welfare state” and, in the drive to shrink budget deficits, it has come under attack. But why do we have a welfare state in the first place? What is its function, and what are we putting at risk when we cut funding for it? That is today’s point of inquiry.

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