Skip to main content

Reformulating Equality of Resources

  • Christian Arnsperger (a1)

Ronald Dworkin's (1981) theory of equality of resources draws heavily on conceptual tools developed in economic theory. His criterion for a just distribution of resources is closely connected with two economic ideas: first, the idea that a distribution of resources reflects a concern for equality if it is envy-free; second, the idea that such an envy-free distribution of resources is attainable as a competitive equilibrium from equal split. The objective of this paper is to show that the criterion of equality of resources has been misinterpreted by normative economics, largely due to Dworkin's own lack of precision, and that it needs to be reformulated in order to be intelligible. The dimensions along which the reformulation is needed concern (1) the nature of the preferences used in what Dworkin calls the ‘envy test’ and (2) the nature of the envy test itself.

Hide All
Arnsperger C. 1994. ‘Envy-freeness and distributive justice’. Journal of Economic Surveys, 8:155–86
Debreu G. 1959. Theory of Value. Yale University Press
Debreu G. 1982. ‘Existence of competitive equilibrium’. In Handbook of Mathematical Economics, Volume 2. Arrow K. and Intriligator M. (eds.). North-Holland
Dworkin R. 1981. ‘What is equality? Part II: equality of resources’. Philosophy & Public Affairs, 10:283345
Fleurbaey M. 1994. ‘On fair compensation’. Theory and Decision, 36:277307
Fleurbaey M. and Maniquet F.. 1993. ‘Fair allocation with unequal production skills: the noenvy approach to compensation’. Mathematical Social Sciences, forthcoming
Hausman D. and McPherson M.. 1993. ‘Taking ethics seriously: economics and contemporary moral philosophy’. Journal of Economic Literature, 31:671731
Iturbe I. and Nieto J.. 1992. ‘On fair allocations and monetary compensation’, Economic Theory, forthcoming
Kolm S.-C. 1971. Justice et Équité, Éditions du CNRS
Mas-Colell A., Whinston M. and Green J.. 1995. Microeconomic Theory. Oxford University Press
Mongin P., and d'Aspremont C.. 1996. ‘Utility theory and ethics’. Forthcoming in Handbook of Utility Theory. Barbera S., Hammond P. and Seidl C. (eds.). Kluwer
Rakowski E. 1991. Equal Justice. Clarendon Press
Roemer J. 1996. Theories of Distributive Justice. Harvard University Press
Thomson W. 1982. ‘Equity in exchange economies’. Journal of Economic Theory, 18:217–44
Thomson W. 1995. The Theory of Fair Allocation. Princeton University Press
Thomson W. and Varian H.. 1985. ‘Theories of justice based on symmetry’. In Social Coals and Social Organization. Hurwicz L. et al. (ed.). Cambridge University Press
Trout Rader J. 1964. ‘Edgeworth exchange and general economic equilibrium’. Yale Economic Papers, 14:132–80
Varian H. 1974. ‘Equity, envy and efficiency’. Journal of Economic Theory, 9:6391
Varian H. 1985. ‘Dworkin on equality of resources’. Economics and Philosophy, 1:110–25
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Economics & Philosophy
  • ISSN: 0266-2671
  • EISSN: 1474-0028
  • URL: /core/journals/economics-and-philosophy
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 15 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 115 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 21st January 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.