Responsibility, Freedom and Social Justice

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



This chapter examines the relationships between responsibility, freedom, and social justice within the context of egalitarianism. It first considers the distinction between responsibility and circumstances as well as the notion that individuals should be held responsible for what lies in their control. In particular, it challenges the idea that social evaluation should import its definition of the responsibility sphere from the theory of moral responsibility. It then discusses two arguments in favour of the preference approach. First, freedom and autonomy are important values which make it important to let individuals choose and direct their lives and have their preferences satisfied. This makes responsibility derivative to the fact of individuals exercising their freedom. Second, it is inappropriate to compare different individuals' levels of satisfaction over their lives when their judgments are based on different conceptions of a good life. The chapter also analyses preference liability versus welfarism, ex-post inequalities, Egalitarian-Equivalence, and the theory of equality of autonomy.


responsibility, freedom, social justice, egalitarianism, moral responsibility, preference liability, welfarism, ex-post inequalities, Egalitarian-Equivalence, equality of autonomy

Publication Title

Fairness, Responsibility, and Welfare