Sufficiency workshop 7.-8. marts

Having Enough: The Philosophy of Sufficiency in Distributive Justice

One of the hot-button issues in contemporary political philosophy is whether distributive justice demands an equal distribution of the relevant distributive currency (resources, welfare, and opportunities) or not. This issue draws a distinction between egalitarians, who claim that arbitrary inequality is in itself unjust; prioritarians, who’s moral concern is benefiting the worst off; and so-calledsufficientarians, who believe that justice holds no necessary commitment for perfect equality but only that all should have “enough”. As an intuitive idea meant to serve as a constructive critique of egalitarian moral principles, sufficientarianism has roots in the writings of Harry Frankfurt (1987)[1] and Joseph Raz (1986).[2] Over the last years it has grown into a larger family of more comprehensive views about distributive justice.

Sufficientarianism has certainly been met with strong opposition by both egalitarians, prioritarians and utilitarians. Critics argue, among other things, that the ideal of sufficiency is arbitrary, ambiguous, over-demanding, or negligent of other important moral values. Still, most non-sufficientarians agree that the ideal of sufficiency holds a strong moral importance alongside other moral ideals. Moreover, the wide theoretical variation and creativity in the construction of defenses of the sufficiency ideal against the criticism has revealed fundamental theoretical disagreement between different strands of sufficientarianism. These disagreements latch on to questions about value-theory, value-pluralism, currency of distributive justice, design of distributional pattern, scope of justice etc. It is safe to say that among sufficientarians, as well as between them and their critics, there is much philosophy left to uncover.

The workshop, Having Enough! The Philosophy of Sufficiency in Distributive Justice, zooms in on the philosophical plausibility of sufficiency as distributive ideal. It hosts scholars who have made significant contributions to the literature on sufficiency. Some see themselves as proponents of sufficientarianism while others consider themselves critics.

The literature on sufficientarianism is still young. With this workshop, I hope we can help it develop in the right direction.


[1] Frankfurt, Harry, Equality as a Moral Ideal, Ethics 98 (1987): 21-43.

[2] Raz, Joseph, The Morality of Freedom, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986.


All talks are in Comenius and open for all!

Worksop begins at 12.00, March 7. Program


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