The Point of Justice: On the Paradigmatic Incompatibility between Rawlsian ‘Justice as Fairness’ and Luck Egalitarianism
John Rawls famously claimed that “the accidents of natural endowment and the contingencies of social circumstance” are “arbitrary from a moral point of view.” Luck egalitarians believe that a conception of justice that eliminates the effects of circumstance but not of choice captures that intuition better than Rawls’s own principles of justice. This chapter argues that the opposite is the case. We can learn from Rawls that one cannot overcome moral arbitrariness in social life by using a morally arbitrary distinction between choice and circumstance. Furthermore, the chapter argues that the incompatibility between these two approaches points to a deeper difference between a deontological and a teleological paradigm that is crucial for the debate between relational and nonrelational notions of political and social justice.