William Morris and the Early Days of the Socialist Movement, Longmans, Green and Co., London, 1921, 142-50. E.P. Thompson criticises Glasier in William Morris: Romantic to Revolutionary, Pantheon, New York, 1977, 747-50.
21On Liberty, MacMillan, Toronto, 1966, 82. Appiah, The Ethics of Identity, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2005, 27.
23 Ibid., 114. Harold Laski also stresses the idea of the good life in his egalitarian argument during the Great Depression, when he criticizes an emphasis on ‘material acquisition’ that ‘fails to make response to those spiritual springs of discontent’ in which ‘the masses’ find their time is ‘void of the sense of creativeness or power.’ Democracy in Crisis, George, Allen and Unwin, London, 1933, 265.
24See B. Webb and B. Hutchins, ‘Socialism and the National Minimum,’ Fabian Socialist Series No. 6, Fabian Society, London, 1909 and Ben Jackson, ‘Equality of Nothing: Loose Egalitarianism and Social Justice on the British Left in the 1920s,’ unpublished paper delivered to the Nuffield Political Theory Workshop, Oxford, Hilary 2002, pp. 33-4, and Jackson, Equality and the British Left: A Study in Progressive Political Thought, 1900-64, Manchester University Press, Manchester, 2008.
25 Beveridge, The Pillars of Security, MacMillan, New York, 1943.
26 Morris’s ideal is not without problems. First, Morris’s antipathy to mass manufacture was paradoxical, since it meant that only the bourgeoisie could afford his labour-intensive goods. In this century, it is all the more apparent that large-scale production can enable wider access to the means of enjoyment. It is a paradox that only today are Morris artefacts, be they only a mug or a tea towel, within the means of most people and this is because they are mass-produced. A second and related problem is Morris’s backward-looking aesthetic itself, which prompted Morris to declare, following Ruskin, that Oxford had been ‘destroyed’ by nineteenth century development, and his focus on aesthetic endeavour that produces art for life. In his preoccupation with decorative arts, tapestries, furniture and wall coverings, Morris seems to rule out the modern, individualistic aesthetic of the single work produced by the great artist. As an aesthetic this is one-sided and detrimental to a pluralist conception of human flourishing. There is in fact lively debate among Morris scholars about the extent of Morris’s medievalism; many see his aesthetic ideas as the inspiration for modernist architecture and design that focuses on lack of adornment, comfort and simplicity.
27 Amartya Sen, Development as Freedom, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1999, 70-1, 88-9
28 Amartya Sen,Inequality Re-examined, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1992, 39.
29 Christopher Lowry notes that Sen refers to the issue of neutrality twice, both times in a footnote; Sen distances himself from perfectionism in one reference, but expresses ambivalence in the other (Inequality Re-examined, 85, n. 26 and 77 n. 12). Lowry makes a good case for thinking that ‘the question of capability and neutrality is a live one.’ See his unpublished paper, ‘Beyond Equality of What: Sen and Neutrality,’ presented to the colloquium, ‘Liberal Neutrality: A Re-evaluation’ Montreal, May 2008, 5.
30 This discussion draws on Sypnowich, ‘Cosmopolitans, Cosmopolitanism and Human Flourishing,’ in G. Brock and H. Brighouse (eds), The Political Philosophy of Cosmopolitanism, Cambridge University Press, 2005. Lowry contends that Sen should be read as meaning not that Rawls had no interest in the impact of primary goods on persons, but that Rawls too easily assumed primary goods were a sufficient indicator. See ‘Beyond Equality of What?’ p. 10.
31 Hurka, Perfectionism, 26.
32 James Griffin, Wellbeing, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1986, 52-3. G.A. Cohen’s ideal of community, where justice requires individuals being prepared to contribute for the sake of the satisfaction of needs other than their own, suggests individuals care not just about who has what, but how they are doing with their respective shares, whether they are able to derive fulfilment from their share of resources. See Cohen, ‘Incentives, Inequality and Community,’ in Stephen Darwall, Equal Freedom, University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, 1994.
34 Public provision of opportunities for social interaction can be seen therefore as an equalizing policy; indeed, community and participation are much more important than affluence in making a person content, according to happiness experts in psychology and economics: see Daniel Gilbert, Stumbling on Happiness, Knopf, New York, 2007, Daniel Nettle, Happiness: the Science Behind Your Smile, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2006, Richard Layard, Happiness: Lessons from a New Science, Penguin, London, 2005.
35 Charles Fourier, Harmonian Man, ed. Mark Poster, Doubleday, Garden City, N.Y., ch. 1, 4, and 5. This is an extreme version of what John Roemer, paraphrasing Marx’s idea of ‘communist man,’ calls the ‘socialist person’ assumption, where conditions of equality nurture more altruistic, comradely individuals for whom contribution to the community is automatic (Roemer, A Future for Socialism, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass.,1995).
36 I discuss these issues in greater detail in my manuscript, ‘Equality Renewed.’ The requirement that we attend to the worst off should be relaxed, however, if aggregate flourishing threatens to be seriously reduced. Certainly the flourishing approach rejects leveling for its own sake. Though the idea of a threshold suggests a lack of interest in equality above the level of sufficiency and a lack of interest in excellence below the level of sufficiency, in fact both considerations play a role throughout the distributive model. This model draws on elements of Nussbaum’s use of a threshold; see Nussbaum, ‘Human Capabilities, Female Human Beings,’ in M. Nussbaum and J. Glover, eds., Women, Culture and Development, Clarendon, Oxford, 1995, 81-2 and Arneson, ‘Perfectionism and Politics,’ 55-59.
37 The argument here draws on Sypnowich, “From Marxism to Liberalism (and Back Again)” Political Studies Review, September 2003.
38 Marx and Engels, ‘German Ideology,’ Marx-Engels Reader, 160.
39 Kymlicka, ‘Left-Liberalism Revisited,’ Christine Sypnowich (ed.) The Egalitarian Conscience: Essays in Honour of G.A. Cohen, Oxford University Press, 2006, 13.
40Van Parijs, Real Freedom for All, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1995, 97, 162.
41 Just as Fourier relied on the over-contributions of the beautiful.
42 Thus the Right derides the ‘nanny state,’ where the nourishment of the nursery is always on offer, even if you spill or waste it; indeed, in the egalitarian case, we don’t even have nanny’s reprimands or inducements to reform squanderers of social welfare.
43Sovereign Virtue, 73-8. See also Dworkin, ‘Sovereign Virtue Re-visited,’ Symposium on Ronald Dworkin’s Sovereign Virtue, Ethics, Vol. 113, No. 1, October 2002, 106-143. This contrasts with traditional meritocratic views which assume a system of rewards and burdens that distinguishes between less and more valuable contributions. See David Miller, Principles of Social Justice, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1999, chapter 9.
44 Elizabeth Anderson coined this term in her provocative critique ‘What is the Point of Equality?’ Ethics, 109, 1999. The diversity among egalitarians, however, is such that Dworkin himself eschews the term ‘luck egalitarianism’ and distances himself from subsequent adherents. See ‘Equality, Luck and Hierarchy,’ Philosophy and Public Affairs, Vol. 31, No.2, 2003, a response to Samuel Scheffler’s ‘What is Egalitarianism?’ Philosophy and Public Affairs, Vol. 31, no. 1, 2003. Other versions include Richard Ameson, ‘Equality and Equality of Opportunity for Welfare,’ in Equality: Selected Readings, ed. Louis Pojman and Robert Westmoreland, Oxford University Press, New York, 1997; G.A. Cohen, ‘On the Currency of Egalitarian Justice,’ Ethics, 99, 1989; John Roemer, Theories of Distributive Justice, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1996.
45 Richard Arneson, ‘Egalitarianism and the Undeserving Poor,’ Journal of Political Philosophy, Vol. 5, No. 4, 1997, 332.
46 Hurka, Perfectionism, 170. See Michael Harrington, The New American Poverty, Firethorn, London, 1985.
47 Wolff, 1998.
48 Morris, ‘Monopoly; or how Labour Is Robbed’ Collected Works, Vol. XXIII, 109.
49 As Arneson says, ‘for most poor people, having a job is good for you whether you think so or not.’ ‘Egalitarianism and the Undeserving Poor,’ 348.
50 Cohen, Why Not Socialism?, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2009.
51Sovereign Virtue, 280.
52 For a delightful inquiry into this question see Bernard Suits, The Grasshopper: Games, Life, and Utopia, Broadview Press, Toronto 2005.
53 The phrase was coined by David Lewis, former leader of the New Democratic Party. See his Louder Voices: Corporate Welfare Bums, James Lorimer, Toronto, 1972.
54 Hurka, Perfectionism, 172, 187.
55 So varied and prodigious was his industrious pursuit of the good that his physician said that Morris died from ‘simply being William Morris, and having done more work than most ten men.’ Fiona MacCarthy, William Morris: A Life for Our Time, Faber and Faber, London 1994, vii.
56News from Nowhere, 147.
57 For a sample of views, see D. Bakhurst and C. Sypnowich, eds., The Social Self, Sage, 1995.
58 Kymlicka, Contemporary Political Philosophy, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2002, 246-8.
59 Kymlicka, Multicultural Citizenship, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 113.
60 Avner Offer, The Challenge of Affluence: Self-Control and Wellbeing in the United States and Britain Since 1950, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2006, 74.
61 Sher, Beyond Neutrality, 73.
62Hobhouse, Liberalism, 76.
64Political Liberalism, Columbia University Press, New York, 1993, 210.
65 The charming encounter between the hero and the children shop clerks in the matter of a hand-crafted pipe and tobacco pouch in Morris’s News from Nowhere would be hard to imagine in any present-day conception of utopia. See Morris, News from Nowhere, Chapter VI.
66 A contemporary example that gives credence to how equality itself can help realise an egalitarian conception of perfectionism is the ‘war on drugs.’ ‘Law and order’ conservatives in the United States have argued that tougher measures are required to stop the traffic and use of illegal drugs. The opposing view is usually thought to rest on the idea of freedom of choice, that people should be free to pursue whatever conception of the good they choose, however misjudged. But our considerations about the conditions for choosing well qualify this view. Robert Goodin notes of smoking, many take drugs, knowing of their dangers, because they suffer from an addiction in which drug-taking is a compulsive behaviour, and cannot really be described as the result of autonomous choice. (No Smoking, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1989, 25-8.) In the ghetto or slum, many become addicted to drugs out of hopelessness, in the belief they have no other option; they make what we might call a non-choice. Of course, in the unequal society, drug addiction may also be the lot of the relatively privileged. People can feel alienated despite access to wealth: the bored suburban housewife who relies on ‘mother’s little helper’; the pressured investment banker addicted to cocaine; the indolent and aimless playboy who takes luxury drugs at exclusive dance clubs. On the egalitarian conception of perfectionism, coercion is the wrong response to the irrationality of drug addictions; society should instead seek to remedy the social conditions that cause people to find these choices reasonable. At the same time, a more open attitude to drug use as a potential Millian ‘experiment in living,’ under certain, highly specified conditions, is more likely in the flourishing approach. A commitment to autonomy as a central feature of living well, coupled with an egalitarian concern for the deprived social conditions that produce choices inimical to living well, produce an argument for attending to bad choices without banning them.
67 Consider obesity, a cause of diminished flourishing, particularly prevalent among economically disadvantaged people. It seems a paradox that excess is a form of deprivation; yet another indication that the pursuit of equality is a more complex matter than simply increasing access to goods. Possible responses to obesity are policies that encourage physical exercise and the consumption of healthy food. Obvious examples are policies that enable methods of transportation such as cycling, policies regarding schools such as health curriculum but also the menus of school cafeterias; even something as mundane as providing free fresh fruit in workplaces would be the kind of policy that might help combat unhealthy eating. The recent debate initiated by the British celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver, about the quality of school meals, is interesting in its concern for, not just healthy eating, but also the aesthetics of good food.
68 Morris, ‘Art and Socialism,’ Collected Works, Vol. XXIII, 193, ‘How We Live and How We Might Live,’ 14.