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The Doctrine of Sufficiency: A Defence

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 October 2005

YITZHAK BENBAJI
Affiliation:
Bar-Ilan University Shalom, Hartman Institute benbaji@shi.org.il

Abstract

This article proposes an analysis of the doctrine of sufficiency. According to my reading, the doctrine's basic positive claim is ‘prioritarian’: benefiting x is of special moral importance where (and only where) x is badly off. Its negative claim is anti-egalitarian: most comparative facts expressed by statements of the type ‘x is worse off than y’ have no moral significance at all. This contradicts the ‘classical’ priority view according to which, although equality per se does not matter, whenever x is worse off than y, at least some priority should be assigned to helping x. Section I elaborates and defends this reconstruction of the doctrine of sufficiency, and section II shows that the privileged utility level presumed within the sufficiency framework exists.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© Cambridge University Press 2005

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