Memorandum, Department of Economics, University of Oslo 2004,14
A liberal egalitarian theory of justice seeks to combine the values of equality, personal freedom and personal responsibility. It is considered a much more promising position than strict egalitarianism, because it supposedly provides a fairness argument for inequalities reflecting differences in choice. However, we show that it is not possible to fulfil this ambition. Inequalities can only be justified on the basis of incentive considerations within a liberal egalitarian framework. Moreover, we demonstrate that there is a surprisingly thin line between strict egalitarianism and libertarianism, which implies that liberals easily may end up as libertarians if they weaken their egalitarian ambitions.