What is wrong with sufficiency?

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    In this paper, I ask what is wrong with sufficiency. I formulate a generic sufficiency principle in relation to which I discuss possible problems for sufficientarianism. I argue against the arbitrariness-concern, that sufficiency theory need only to identify a possible space for determining a plausible threshold, and I argue against the high-low threshold dilemma concern, that multiple-threshold views can solve this dilemma. I then distinguish between currency-pluralist and currency-monist multiple-threshold views and test them against two different versions of the widely shared “ignorance of inequality objection” to sufficientarianism—a benefit-driven and a burden-driven version. I argue that currency-pluralist sufficiency views are better capable of responding to the former than currency-monist views. However, I show that no existing sufficiency view can provide a plausible response to the burden-driven version. Hence, I conclude that the problem of unequal distribution of burdens above the thresholds represents an overlooked threat to the sufficiency view, in any version.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalRes Publica
    Issue number1
    Pages (from-to)21-38
    Publication statusPublished - 2019


    • Distributive justice
    • Equality
    • Pluralism
    • Sufficiency


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