Article/Publication Details

Is Harry Frankfurt’s “Doctrine of Sufficiency” Sufficient?

Organon F, 2016, vol. 23, No 1, pp. 50-71.
Language: English
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In his article, “Equality as a Moral Ideal”, Harry Frankfurt argues against economic egalitarianism and presents what he calls the “doctrine of sufficiency.” According to the doctrine of sufficiency, what is morally important is not relative economic equality, but rather, whether somebody has enough, where “having enough” is a non-comparative standard of reasonable contentment that may differ from person to person given his/her aims and circumstances. The purpose of this paper is to show that Frankfurt’s original arguments in support for his doctrine of sufficiency have critical problems that Frankfurt himself does not properly recognize. In the end, I will argue that in order to solve these problems the doctrine of sufficiency cannot help but to incorporate certain prioritarian commitments – commitments which many would view as implying economic egalitarianism. This is embarrassing for a doctrine whose raison d’être was mainly to defeat economic egalitarianism.


Egalitarianism, Frankfurt, prioritarianism, sufficiency, sufficientarianism

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