Equal Justice

Equal Justice

Equal Justice

Equal Justice


The core of this book is a novel theory of distributive justice premised on the fundamental moral equality of persons. In the light of this theory, Rakowski considers three types of problems which urgently require solutions-- the distribution of resources, property rights, and the saving of life--and provides challenging and unconventional answers. Further, he criticizes the economic analysis of law as a normative theory, and develops an alternative account of tort and property law.


Option luck, whether alone or in partnership with brute luck, exerts an overwhelming influence on the distribution of resources. From business to blackjack, from parachuting to mining, from decisions to insure against drought to attempts to develop a cure for aids, option luck affects the size of people's holdings and their ability to cope with calamity. But brute luck is often the more important arbiter of people's material and psychological well-being. Unfortunately, eliminating the inequities it breeds would frequently be a trying and sometimes an impossible task. in this chapter I take up the problems posed by bad brute luck in some of its most prominent guises--illness and injury--before turning in the next two chapters to inequalities attributable to people's differential effort and unequal capacities.

4.1. normal adults

Consider the position of normal adults who contract debilitating diseases or who are injured in accidents for which no one was responsible and which occurred in the course of an activity that almost everyone performs. To the extent that they did not increase the probability of their falling prey to a particular disease or being injured in some way by behaving in a manner known to worsen people's odds of experiencing such setbacks, they have unquestionably suffered bad brute luck. Acting blamelessly, they have been made less well off than their peers, not only financially, insofar as their condition diminishes their capacity for remunerative activity, but also experientially, to the extent that they have been deprived of some of the standard means and preconditions (e.g. well-functioning organs and limbs, freedom from pain and abnormally intense anxiety, a given span of years) for leading a fulfilling life. Justice therefore requires that they be made whole to the greatest extent attainable at the expense of those who have been spared similar misfortunes.

How much sacrifice can be demanded of those not crippled by bad brute luck? and what types of illnesses and accidents afford a right to compensation? These questions will have to be addressed presently, in connection with reverses suffered by minors. But they need not be . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.