12th Pavia Graduate Conference in Political Philosophy – Abstract/Wells

Katy Wells

Egalitarianism, Economic Control, and Ownership of the Means of Production 

Must egalitarians require that all citizens have, in some form, an equal stake in the means of production? Recent, influential contributions to the subject hold that the answer to this question is yes. Consequently, they claim, egalitarianism can only be realized by economic regimes like property-owning democracy or market socialism – not by welfare state capitalism. This paper rejects one of the most significant arguments for this conclusion. The argument is that when considering the economic organization of a just society, egalitarians should be concerned to avoid a scenario in which there are significant disparities in economic decision-making power. I argue that it is not clear that egalitarians should be concerned to avoid such a scenario. This paper identifies two putative wrongs with a scenario that involves such inequalities in decision-making power: firstly, that it involves pernicious status differences; secondly, that it involves or might lead to troubling relations of domination. I argue that these things are either not troubling at all, or not troubling enough to require egalitarians to embrace alternative forms of economic organization.