John Rawls’s difference principle and luck egalitarianism are currently two of the most popular theories of distributive justice in the philosophical literature. Many luck egalitarians have argued that Rawls outlined the fundamental arguments for luck egalitarianism in A Theory of Justice (TJ) but did not settle on the difference principle because he did not realize the full implications of his own arguments. In contrast, I believe that Rawls was too thorough of a thinker not to realize the full implications of his arguments for the difference principle. In this essay I explicate two arguments I believe that Rawls puts forth in TJ against luck egalitarianism: the effort argument and the impracticable argument. I argue that both arguments are unpersuasive because the effort argument is invalid and we have good reason to be sceptical that the impracticable argument is sound. In this essay I do not directly take a side in the difference principle/luck egalitarianism debate; however, I do contribute to the debate by showing that Rawls was intentionally not a luck egalitarian and that Rawls arguments against luck egalitarianism are not persuasive. Rawlsians need to look beyond Rawls if they are going to defeat luck egalitarianism.
Rodrigues, Taylor C., "Is Rawls’s Difference Principle Preferable to Luck Egalitarianism?" (2014). 2014 Undergraduate Awards. 7.