What should egalitarians believe if they really are egalitarian? A reply to Martin O’Neill

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In his article, ‘What Should Egalitarians Believe?’, Martin O’Neill argues, amongst other things, that egalitarians should reject both Telic and Deontic Egalitarianism and that they should adopt in their place a version of Non-Intrinsic Egalitarianism, specifically, the Pluralist Non-Intrinsic Egalitarian View. The central purpose of my article is to challenge O’Neill’s assumption that he can defend each of the various propositions that make up his position simultaneously. I do this with two arguments. First, I argue that in order to justify why egalitarians should adopt a version of Non-Intrinsic Egalitarianism, O’Neill is bound to rely on forms of egalitarianism that are either Telic or Deontic, and so he is no longer able to affirm that egalitarians should reject both Telic and Deontic Egalitarianism. Second, I argue that by allowing the inclusion of non-egalitarian reasons into the Pluralist Non-Intrinsic Egalitarian View, O’Neill opens the floodgates to an indefinite number of other non-egalitarian reasons, such that it is scarcely credible that the Pluralist Non-Intrinsic Egalitarian View really is an egalitarian view after all.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)453-469
Number of pages17
JournalEuropean Journal of Political Theory
Issue number4
Early online date16 Oct 2013
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014


  • Egalitarianism
  • justice
  • O'Neill
  • Parfit
  • pluralism

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