Just Trying to Relate: Exploring a Potential Middle Ground Between Relational and Distributive Egalitarian Theories
In this thesis, I explore the possibility of an egalitarian theory that reconciles distributive and relational approaches. Although I will not advance a complete and unified theory of equality, I will discuss the advantages of both approaches in some detail in order to offer what I call a relational-capabilities egalitarian approach, which provides a plausible reconciliation of both approaches into a broader and more complete theory of justice. In the first chapter of this work, I will explain the general egalitarian project and discuss in detail a few of the more influential recent distributive egalitarian approaches. I argue in favour of a capabilities metric of justice, as advanced by Sen, Nussbaum, Wolff, and de-Shalit. In Chapter Two, I will discuss some of the important feminist criticisms and advancements made to distributive egalitarian theories. I will argue that Elizabeth Anderson’s sufficientarian conception of democratic equality is best for combining feminist concerns about group-based oppression, with the distributive arrangements necessary for guaranteeing equal democratic standing for all. In the third chapter I will introduce the relational methodology, and contrast it with the distributive approaches that I discuss in the first and second chapters, in order to show that relational egalitarians raise serious and considerable challenges to the distributive approach. In Chapter Four, I will advance my own view of relational-capabilities egalitarianism, as a program for reconciling distributive and relational theories of equality. Finally, in Chapter Five, I will consider some objections to my view, and briefly discuss some of the more fundamental disagreements between relational and distributive egalitarians. Ultimately, I intend to offer a programmatic illustration of how relational and distributive egalitarian approaches may be united in a much broader, fully formed egalitarian theory.