Relational Sufficientarianism and Frankfurt’s Objections to Equality

Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen*

*Corresponding author for this work

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This article presents two rejoinders to Frankfurt’s arguments against egalitarianism. In developing the first, I introduce a novel relational view of justice: relational sufficiency. This is the view that justice requires us to relate to one another as people with sufficient, but not necessarily equal, standing. I argue that if Frankfurt’s objections to distributive equality are sound, so are analogous objections to relational equality. However, in a range of cases involving comparative justice (punishment, equal pay, and family relations) we should be relational egalitarians, not relational sufficientarians, and that we must therefore reject Frankfurt’s objections to distributive equality. The second rejoinder takes the form of a demonstration that all of Frankfurt’s objections to distributive equality (and relational equality) are unsound. In effect, the article rehabilitates the ideal of distributive equality in the face of Frankfurt’s objections.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Ethics
Pages (from-to)81-106
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • Distributive egalitarianism
  • Distributive justice
  • Harry Frankfurt
  • Relational egalitarianism
  • Relational sufficientarianism
  • Sufficientarianism


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