Against the Applicability Argument for Sufficientarianism

Cecilia Maria Pedersen, Lasse Nielsen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Sufficientarianism has become known as a promising alternative to egalitarian political theory. Generally, the view holds that justice is concerned with securing enough, not necessarily equality, for everyone. Setting aside the ideal-theoretical dispute between competing distributive theories, there has been a recent attempt to defend sufficientarianism from its pragmatic advantage of being more applicable than its competitors. This paper argues that this argument fails. One reason accounting for this is that sufficientarianism has developed into a complex family of disparate strands of theory to the extent that it becomes almost impossible to derive clear and coherent political implications. Moreover, while the implications that the applicability argument builds upon are very basic and generically acceptable, they are not particularly sufficientarian. Indeed, several sufficientarian views set very high thresholds and it is thus not clear that these theories would be more politically feasible than for example egalitarian theories.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Journal of Value Inquiry
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4. Jan 2022


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