Luck in the Just Society - Sociology of Individual's Choices and a Justification for Egalitarian Social Policies

Creative Commons License

Arun M. O.

Anadolu Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Dergisi, vol.23, no.3, pp.751-770, 2023 (Peer-Reviewed Journal)


To what extent can individuals be kept responsible for the disadvantages they experience? This is undoubtedly one of the most fundamental questions that have led to a historical cleavage between egalitarian perspectives that underline roles of structural inequalities leading to disadvantages and anti-egalitarian/libertarian perspectives that tend to keep individuals themselves responsible for their own living conditions. Taking a mediating position between these perspectives, a relatively new normative framework, viz. luck egalitarianism, has recently provided an analytical answer to this question. Building upon an authentic conceptual framework in which two distinct forms of luck are defined, it claims that individuals cannot be kept responsible for their disadvantaged conditions so long as these conditions have appeared as consequences of factors that are beyond their own control, such as luck, which inescapably brings forth a normative idea that individuals should take responsibility of disadvantages that are consequences of their own choices/decisions. This paper discusses that evaluative aspects of individuals’ choices/decisions within the given configuration of luck egalitarianism’s analytical framework are excessively ambiguous, which can easily lead it to turn into a perspective morally justifying quite a number of disadvantages. Drawing on various hypothetical cases and empirical findings, it suggests that luck egalitarianism should recognize sociological formation of individuals’ choices/decisions in modern stratified societies to overcome such jeopardy. Following this, it addresses two positive implications of such recognition as (1) saving luck egalitarianism from being a means of right-wing exclusionary political positions and (2) opening up a space to incorporate egalitarian social policies.