Singapore, A Luck Egalitarian Society?

The​ ​word​ ​“meritocracy”​ ​has​ ​often​ ​been​ ​thrown​ ​around​ ​to​ ​describe​ ​the​ ​governing principle​ ​behind​ ​Singapore’s​ ​social​ ​and​ ​political​ ​institutions.​ ​I​ ​would​ ​like​ ​to​ ​argue​ ​that​ ​the​ ​slogan of​ ​meritocracy​ ​is​ ​a​ ​misrepresentation​ ​of​ ​Singapore​ ​and​ ​that​ ​we​ ​are​ ​better​ ​classified​ ​as​ ​a​ ​luck egalitarian​ ​society.​ ​I​ ​will​ ​argue​ ​this​ ​by​ ​suggesting​ ​that​ ​the​ ​main​ ​policies​ ​implemented​ ​by Singapore​ ​such​ ​as​ ​CPF​ ​are​ ​principled​ ​on​ ​luck​ ​egalitarian​ ​concerns.​ ​I​ ​will​ ​primarily​ ​use​ ​Cohen’s notion​ ​of​ ​luck​ ​egalitarianism​ ​to​ ​show​ ​how​ ​Singapore​ ​can​ ​be​ ​seen​ ​as​ ​a​ ​luck​ ​egalitarian​ ​society. However,​ ​I​ ​believe​ ​that​ ​in​ ​grounding​ ​our​ ​institutions​ ​and​ ​policies​ ​on​ ​luck​ ​egalitarian​ ​concerns, Singapore​ ​has​ ​unsuccessfully​ ​address​ ​inequality​ ​in​ ​society.​ ​I​ ​will​ ​show​ ​that​ ​observed inequalities​ ​in​ ​Singapore​ ​can​ ​be​ ​traced​ ​back​ ​to​ ​problems​ ​arising​ ​from​ ​the​ ​way​ ​luck​ ​egalitarians approach​ ​equality.​ ​I​ ​will​ ​draw​ ​mainly​ ​from​ ​the​ ​criticisms​ ​offered​ ​by​ ​Anderson​ ​to​ ​show​ ​how Singapore​ ​is​ ​still​ ​unequal​ ​despite​ ​all​ ​the​ ​measures​ ​in​ ​place​ ​to​ ​alleviate​ ​inequality.

Singapore​ ​has​ ​often​ ​been​ ​viewed​ ​as​ ​a​ ​strict​ ​but​ ​successful​ ​young​ ​nation.​ ​Many​ ​people attribute​ ​this​ ​to​ ​our​ ​emphasis​ ​on​ ​meritocracy​ ​which​ ​has​ ​helped​ ​us​ ​select​ ​the​ ​best​ ​people​ ​and encouraged​ ​society​ ​as​ ​a​ ​whole​ ​to​ ​pursue​ ​excellence​ ​through​ ​recognition​ ​of​ ​people’s​ ​merit. These​ ​same​ ​people​ ​however​ ​also​ ​point​ ​towards​ ​the​ ​inequality​ ​present​ ​in​ ​our​ ​country​ ​as​ ​the failings​ ​of​ ​our​ ​meritocracy.​ ​They​ ​think​ ​this​ ​system​ ​is​ ​unjust​ ​because​ ​people​ ​who​ ​are​ ​unable​ ​to excel​ ​because​ ​of​ ​factors​ ​beyond​ ​their​ ​control​ ​are​ ​neglected​ ​by​ ​this​ ​system.​ ​Others​ ​think​ ​that what​ ​counts​ ​as​ ​one’s​ ​effort​ ​cannot​ ​be​ ​distinguished​ ​from​ ​the​ ​endowments​ ​that​ ​are​ ​beyond​ ​one’s control​ ​and​ ​hence​ ​merit​ ​should​ ​not​ ​be​ ​a​ ​basis​ ​for​ ​distributive​ ​justice​ ​in​ ​the​ ​first​ ​place.​ ​I​ ​argue that​ ​these​ ​popular​ ​opinions​ ​do​ ​not​ ​capture​ ​Singapore’s​ ​attempts​ ​in​ ​ensuring​ ​equality​ ​and​ ​that luck​ ​egalitarianism​ ​is​ ​a​ ​more​ ​appropriate​ ​model​ ​to​ ​look​ ​at​ ​the​ ​way​ ​Singapore​ ​works.​ ​Indeed, Singapore​ ​does​ ​prize​ ​effort​ ​but​ ​only​ ​insofar​ ​as​ ​this​ ​effort​ ​is​ ​not​ ​tainted​ ​by​ ​arbitrary​ ​factors beyond​ ​one’s​ ​control​ ​such​ ​as​ ​luck,​ ​endowments​ ​and​ ​circumstances.​ ​To​ ​put​ ​it​ ​more​ ​accurately, Singapore​ ​prizes​ ​individual​ ​responsibility​ ​rather​ ​than​ ​effort​ ​or​ ​merit.​ ​Singapore​ ​respects​ ​but holds​ ​its​ ​citizens​ ​accountable​ ​for​ ​their​ ​own​ ​life​ ​choices​ ​and​ ​the​ ​costs​ ​it​ ​imposes​ ​on​ ​others. Singapore​ ​also​ ​recognises​ ​that​ ​circumstances,​ ​endowments​ ​and​ ​luck​ ​play​ ​a​ ​huge​ ​role​ ​in people’s​ ​lives​ ​and​ ​so​ ​variations​ ​in​ ​these​ ​factors​ ​and​ ​their​ ​resulting​ ​unequal​ ​effects​ ​are​ ​not chargeable​ ​to​ ​individuals.​ ​As​ ​such,​ ​Singapore​ ​promotes​ ​equality​ ​by​ ​supporting​ ​citizens​ ​if​ ​they are​ ​negatively​ ​affected​ ​by​ ​circumstances​ ​beyond​ ​their​ ​control​ ​or​ ​bad​ ​luck​ ​through​ ​numerous schemes​ ​and​ ​policies.​ ​In​ ​doing​ ​so,​ ​Singapore​ ​hopes​ ​to​ ​be​ ​as​ ​fair​ ​as​ ​possible​ ​and​ ​make​ ​its society​ ​equal.​ ​Before​ ​delving​ ​into​ ​the​ ​specifics​ ​of​ ​these​ ​measures,​ ​it​ ​is​ ​important​ ​to​ ​examine​ ​the underlying​ ​principle​ ​behind​ ​such​ ​an​ ​approach​ ​to​ ​equality.​ ​This​ ​approach​ ​has​ ​its​ ​roots​ ​in​ ​luck egalitarianism.

Luck​ ​egalitarianism​ ​is​ ​a​ ​branch​ ​of​ ​egalitarianism​ ​that​ ​seeks​ ​equality​ ​through compensating​ ​for​ ​misfortunes​ ​that​ ​are​ ​not​ ​chargeable​ ​to​ ​individuals​ ​while​ ​recognising​ ​that people​ ​are​ ​responsible​ ​for​ ​the​ ​choices​ ​they​ ​make​ ​in​ ​life​ ​which​ ​impose​ ​costs​ ​on​ ​others. Underlying​ ​this​ ​approach​ ​to​ ​equality​ ​is​ ​the​ ​key​ ​idea​ ​that​ ​we​ ​can​ ​distinguish​ ​between​ ​things which​ ​are​ ​one’s​ ​preferences​ ​and​ ​things​ ​which​ ​are​ ​one’s​ ​endowments.​ ​This​ ​is​ ​famously​ ​known as ​​Dworkin’s​​ cut​​ between ​​person ​​and ​​circumstances.​​ In​​ his ​​seminal​​work,​ E​​quality​​of Resources​,​ ​Dworkin​ ​rejects​ ​welfare​ ​approach​ ​to​ ​equality​ ​and​ ​proposes​ ​a​ ​equality​ ​of​ ​resources approach​ ​to​ ​look​ ​at​ ​how​ ​equality​ ​can​ ​be​ ​achieved.​ ​He​ ​believes​ ​that​ ​the​ ​welfare​ ​approach​ ​fails because​ ​it​ ​wrongly​ ​redistributes​ ​goods​ ​to​ ​people​ ​who​ ​are​ ​unsatisfied​ ​with​ ​their​ ​lives​ ​in​ ​spite​ ​of having​ ​voluntarily​ ​cultivated​ ​an​ ​expensive​ ​ambition​ ​which​ ​is​ ​hard​ ​to​ ​achieve​ ​without​ ​more resources​ ​than​ ​others​ ​thereby​ ​imposing​ ​unfair​ ​costs​ ​to​ ​others.​ ​He​ ​argues​ ​that​ ​his​ ​resource approach​ ​is​ ​mindful​ ​of​ ​the​ ​costs​ ​one’s​ ​preferences​ ​impose​ ​on​ ​others​ ​in​ ​society​ ​without​ ​judging these​ ​preferences​ ​as​ ​expensive​ ​ambitions​ ​or​ ​not.​ ​However,​ ​Dworkin​ ​is​ ​also​ ​aware​ ​of​ ​the​ ​fact that​ ​unwanted​ ​circumstances​ ​like​ ​disabilities​ ​can​ ​affect​ ​one’s​ ​life​ ​and​ ​result​ ​in​ ​inequality​ ​which has​ ​no​ ​basis​ ​in​ ​one’s​ ​preferences.​ ​Synthesizing​ ​these​ ​two​ ​concerns,​ ​Dworkin​ ​introduces​ ​an important​ ​cut​ ​between​ ​person​ ​and​ ​circumstances​ ​in​ ​his​ ​distinction​ ​between​ ​2​ ​kinds​ ​of​ ​luck where​ ​one​ ​can​ ​be​ ​attributed​ ​to​ ​person​ ​and​ ​the​ ​other​ ​to​ ​circumstances.​ ​There​ ​is​ ​option​ ​luck which​ ​is​ ​a​ ​matter​ ​of​ ​how​ ​deliberate​ ​and​ ​calculated​ ​gambles​ ​turn​ ​out​ ​and​ ​there​ ​is​ ​brute​ ​luck which​ ​is​ ​a​ ​matter​ ​of​ ​how​ ​risks​ ​fall​ ​out​ ​that​ ​are​ ​not​ ​in​ ​that​ ​sense​ ​deliberate​ ​gambles (Dworkin, 293).​ ​Option​ ​luck​ ​is​ ​possible​ ​to​ ​avoid​ ​by​ ​choosing​ ​to​ ​accept​ ​or​ ​decline​ ​the​ ​risks​ ​involved whereas​ ​brute​ ​luck​ ​is​ ​impossible​ ​to​ ​avoid.​ ​With​ ​this​ ​distinction,​ ​Dworkin​ ​hopes​ ​to​ ​compensate for​ ​unwanted​ ​circumstances​ ​like​ ​handicaps​ ​while​ ​respecting​ ​the​ ​idea​ ​of​ ​individual​ ​responsibility and​ ​so​ ​proposes​ ​an​ ​insurance​ ​market​ ​scheme​ ​where​ ​people​ ​convert​ ​their​ ​brute​ ​bad​ ​luck​ ​into option​ ​luck​ ​by​ ​insuring​ ​against​ ​events​ ​of​ ​brute​ ​bad​ ​luck (Dworkin,​ ​293-297).​ ​In​ ​deciding​ ​how much​ ​insurance​ ​coverage​ ​to​ ​buy,​ ​society​ ​can​ ​then​ ​determine​ ​how​ ​much​ ​to​ ​tax​ ​members​ ​of society​ ​such​ ​that​ ​the​ ​tax​ ​revenue​ ​can​ ​be​ ​used​ ​to​ ​dispense​ ​insurance​ ​to​ ​people​ ​who​ ​need it (Dworkin,​ ​297).

This​ ​principle​ ​espoused​ ​by​ ​Dworkin​ ​can​ ​be​ ​seen​ ​in​ ​policies​ ​implemented​ ​by​ ​Singapore, notably​ ​CPF.​ ​CPF​ ​is​ ​a​ ​compulsory​ ​savings​ ​scheme​ ​for​ ​working​ ​Singaporeans​ ​who​ ​have​ ​to​ ​save a​ ​percentage​ ​of​ ​their​ ​monthly​ ​income​ ​and​ ​employers​ ​have​ ​to​ ​contribute​ ​to​ ​their​ ​employees’ savings​ ​by​ ​giving​ ​a​ ​percentage​ ​of​ ​their​ ​employees’​ ​income​ ​to​ ​their​ ​CPF.​ ​The​ ​objective​ ​for​ ​CPF is​ ​mainly​ ​to​ ​provide​ ​assistance​ ​against​ ​the​ ​possibility​ ​of​ ​longevity​ ​and​ ​its​ ​negative​ ​effects​ ​such as​ ​greater​ ​risks​ ​of​ ​disabilities​ ​which​ ​can​ ​be​ ​seen​ ​as​ ​brute​ ​bad​ ​luck.​ ​The​ ​government​ ​provides interest​ ​rates​ ​for​ ​these​ ​savings​ ​and​ ​mandate​ ​that​ ​part​ ​of​ ​these​ ​savings​ ​be​ ​used​ ​to​ ​pay premiums​ ​for​ ​a​ ​medical​ ​insurance​ ​scheme​ ​known​ ​as​ ​Medishield​ ​LIFE​ ​which​ ​provides compensation​ ​for​ ​health​ ​issues.​ ​This​ ​measure​ ​is​ ​different​ ​from​ ​the​ ​taxation​ ​scheme​ ​Dworkin proposes​ ​but​ ​it​ ​is​ ​the​ ​same​ ​in​ ​principle.​ ​In​ ​ensuring​ ​everyone’s​ ​participation​ ​in​ ​CPF​ ​and​ ​hence medical​ ​insurance,​ ​the​ ​government​ ​does​ ​not​ ​just​ ​hand​ ​out​ ​free​ ​health​ ​care​ ​by​ ​taxing​ ​everyone indiscriminately​ ​but​ ​rather​ ​forces​ ​Singaporeans​ ​to​ ​convert​ ​their​ ​brute​ ​bad​ ​luck​ ​into​ ​option​ ​luck but​ ​only​ ​if​ ​these​ ​Singaporeans​ ​are​ ​working​ ​in​ ​the​ ​first​ ​place.​ ​However,​ ​this​ ​measure​ ​does​ ​not cover​ ​those​ ​who​ ​are​ ​unemployed​ ​and​ ​does​ ​not​ ​cover​ ​adequately​ ​people​ ​with​ ​lower​ ​income​ ​who through​ ​no​ ​fault​ ​of​ ​their​ ​own​ ​and​ ​by​ ​brute​ ​bad​ ​luck​ ​land​ ​themselves​ ​in​ ​these​ ​situations.​ ​How then​ ​does​ ​Singapore​ ​compensate​ ​them​ ​and​ ​ensure​ ​luck​ ​egalitarian​ ​equality?​ ​Furthermore,​ ​this focus​ ​on​ ​monetary​ ​compensation​ ​is​ ​susceptible​ ​to​ ​the​ ​capabilities​ ​objection​ ​which​ ​suggests​ ​that providing​ ​money​ ​does​ ​not​ ​necessarily​ ​translate​ ​to​ ​an​ ​equalising​ ​outcome​ ​for​ ​the​ ​unfortunate. CPF​ ​is​ ​just​ ​one​ ​of​ ​the​ ​many​ ​policies​ ​that​ ​Singapore​ ​has​ ​implemented​ ​to​ ​help​ ​the​ ​needy​ ​while ensuring​ ​responsibility.​ ​While​ ​Singapore​ ​does​ ​demonstrate​ ​some​ ​Dworkinian​ ​principles,​ ​it​ ​is more​ ​accurate​ ​to​ ​portray​ ​Singapore​ ​as​ ​using​ ​a​ ​Cohenian​ ​approach​ ​as​ ​Singapore​ ​does implement​ ​other​ ​important​ ​measures​ ​such​ ​as​ ​training​ ​and​ ​subsidies​ ​in​ ​addition​ ​to​ ​monetary compensation​ ​for​ ​its​ ​unemployed​ ​and​ ​handicapped​ ​citizens.​ ​This​ ​then​ ​resembles​ ​Cohen’s​ ​equal access​ ​to​ ​advantage​ ​approach​ ​much​ ​more​ ​than​ ​the​ ​equality​ ​of​ ​resources​ ​approach.

While​ ​Dworkin’s​ ​cut​ ​was​ ​important​ ​in​ ​the​ ​development​ ​of​ ​the​ ​crucial​ ​concerns​ ​of​ ​luck egalitarianism,​ ​many​ ​have​ ​criticised​ ​his​ ​resource​ ​approach​ ​as​ ​inadequate​ ​to​ ​achieve​ ​the​ ​aims​ ​of luck​ ​egalitarianism.​ ​In​ ​a​ ​famous​ ​thought​ ​experiment,​ ​Cohen​ ​highlights​ ​the​ ​inadequacies​ ​of Dworkin’s​ ​resources​ ​approach​ ​by​ ​considering​ ​the​ ​case​ ​of​ ​a​ ​handicapped​ ​person​ ​who​ ​has troubles​ ​moving​ ​his​ ​arms.​ ​This​ ​person​ ​suffers​ ​from​ ​a​ ​weird​ ​disease​ ​such​ ​that​ ​after​ ​he​ ​moves​ ​his arms,​ ​he​ ​suffers​ ​severe​ ​pain​ ​in​ ​his​ ​arms.​ ​It​ ​is​ ​not​ ​difficult​ ​for​ ​the​ ​man​ ​to​ ​move​ ​his​ ​arms​ ​but costly​ ​for​ ​him​ ​to​ ​do​ ​so (Cohen,​ ​918-919).​ ​Resource​ ​luck​ ​egalitarians​ ​like​ ​Dworkin​ ​will​ ​not​ ​be​ ​able to​ ​provide​ ​compensation​ ​for​ ​such​ ​a​ ​handicap.​ ​This​ ​is​ ​because​ ​they​ ​will​ ​not​ ​see​ ​this​ ​handicap​ ​as a​ ​resource​ ​deficiency​ ​since​ ​the​ ​pain​ ​from​ ​this​ ​handicap​ ​is​ ​classified​ ​as​ ​a​ ​welfare​ ​problem​ ​which deserves​ ​no​ ​compensation​ ​and​ ​yet​ ​is​ ​not​ ​a​ ​result​ ​of​ ​preferences​ ​but​ ​endowments (Cohen,​ ​919, 921).​ ​As​ ​such,​ ​Cohen​ ​argues​ ​that​ ​while​ ​Dworkin​ ​is​ ​right​ ​in​ ​pointing​ ​out​ ​the​ ​need​ ​to​ ​distinguish between​ ​person​ ​and​ ​circumstances,​ ​Dworkin’s​ ​cut​ ​of​ ​preferences​ ​and​ ​resources​ ​does​ ​not address​ ​this​ ​concern​ ​successfully.​ ​Instead,​ ​Cohen​ ​proposes​ ​a​ ​further​ ​cut​ ​between​ ​chosen​ ​and unchosen​ ​preferences (Cohen.​ ​919-920).​ ​This​ ​new​ ​cut​ ​allows​ ​luck​ ​egalitarians​ ​to​ ​address​ ​the earlier​ ​thought​ ​experiment​ ​by​ ​saying​ ​that​ ​the​ ​pain​ ​in​ ​his​ ​arms​ ​is​ ​a​ ​unchosen​ ​disadvantage​ ​and so​ ​rightfully​ ​deserves​ ​compensation.​ ​Cohen​ ​also​ ​introduces​ ​a​ ​new​ ​approach​ ​in​ ​looking​ ​at equality.​ ​He​ ​pushes​ ​for​ ​the​ ​idea​ ​of​ ​equality​ ​of​ ​access​ ​to​ ​advantage​ ​which​ ​can​ ​be​ ​seen​ ​as equality​ ​of​ ​opportunity​ ​to​ ​welfare​ ​and​ ​personal​ ​capacity​ ​to​ ​engage​ ​in​ ​basic​ ​activities.​ ​In​ ​doing so,​ ​Cohen​ ​focuses​ ​not​ ​only​ ​on​ ​equalising​ ​resources​ ​but​ ​also​ ​welfare​ ​to​ ​some​ ​extent​ ​and​ ​even includes​ ​a​ ​person’s​ ​capacity​ ​in​ ​its​ ​considerations​ ​of​ ​equality (Cohen,​ ​916-917).​ ​This​ ​is​ ​similarly shown​ ​by​ ​Singapore’s​ ​numerous​ ​measures​ ​such​ ​as​ ​SG​ ​Enable​ ​which​ ​provides​ ​education, training​ ​and​ ​employment​ ​for​ ​children,​ ​youths​ ​and​ ​adults,​ ​ensuring​ ​that​ ​they​ ​are​ ​equipped​ ​with basic​ ​capacities​ ​to​ ​do​ ​things.​ ​There​ ​is​ ​also​ ​income​ ​supplement​ ​known​ ​as​ ​Workfare​ ​to​ ​boost income​ ​and​ ​CPF​ ​contributions​ ​for​ ​low​ ​income​ ​earners.​ ​Cash​ ​assistance​ ​and​ ​secondary assistance​ ​such​ ​as​ ​provision​ ​of​ ​recurring​ ​hygiene​ ​essentials​ ​and​ ​consumables​ ​such​ ​as​ ​adult diapers​ ​or​ ​diabetic​ ​consumables​​ ​​are​ ​given​ ​by​ ​ComCare.​ ​Subsidies​ ​for​ ​childcare​ ​and kindergarten​ ​are​ ​also​ ​available​ ​for​ ​struggling​ ​parents​ ​trying​ ​to​ ​make​ ​ends​ ​meet.

Yet,​ ​despite​ ​all​ ​these​ ​measures,​ ​there​ ​still​ ​remains​ ​a​ ​rather​ ​large​ ​inequality​ ​in​ ​Singapore. This​ ​can​ ​be​ ​observed​ ​through​ ​the​ ​numerous​ ​elderly​ ​still​ ​working​ ​for​ ​money​ ​to​ ​tide​ ​them​ ​through their​ ​old​ ​age.​ ​It​ ​is​ ​not​ ​difficult​ ​for​ ​one​ ​to​ ​spot​ ​elderlies​ ​pushing​ ​a​ ​trolley​ ​full​ ​of​ ​cardboard​ ​to recycle​ ​them​ ​for​ ​money.​ ​If​ ​CPF​ ​was​ ​designed​ ​to​ ​secure​ ​risks​ ​of​ ​old​ ​age​ ​for​ ​Singaporeans,​ ​why are​ ​there​ ​still​ ​so​ ​many​ ​elderly​ ​struggling​ ​to​ ​meet​ ​the​ ​basic​ ​requirements​ ​of​ ​daily​ ​life? Furthermore,​ ​why​ ​are​ ​their​ ​jobs​ ​so​ ​menial​ ​and​ ​unrewarding?​ ​Has​ ​luck​ ​egalitarianism​ ​failed them?​ ​I​ ​argue​ ​that​ ​luck​ ​egalitarianism​ ​has,​ ​as​ ​Anderson​ ​points​ ​out,​ ​failed​ ​to​ ​achieve​ ​the egalitarian​ ​aim​ ​of​ ​equal​ ​respect​ ​and​ ​concern​ ​for​ ​all​ ​citizens (Anderson,​ ​289).​ ​While​ ​there​ ​are many​ ​schemes​ ​offered​ ​to​ ​help​ ​citizens,​ ​they​ ​often​ ​come​ ​pegged​ ​with​ ​a​ ​long​ ​list​ ​of​ ​conditions and​ ​prerequisites​ ​to​ ​be​ ​met​ ​before​ ​a​ ​person​ ​is​ ​even​ ​qualified​ ​for​ ​the​ ​scheme.​ ​The​ ​government also​ ​implements​ ​means​ ​testing​ ​before​ ​granting​ ​person​ ​the​ ​assistance​ ​required.​ ​People​ ​applying for​ ​these​ ​aids​ ​will​ ​also​ ​feel​ ​inferior​ ​because​ ​they​ ​will​ ​recognise​ ​that​ ​they​ ​only​ ​receive​ ​these​ ​aids due​ ​to​ ​their​ ​inferiority​ ​to​ ​others (Anderson,​ ​306-307).​ ​This​ ​stigmatises​ ​aid​ ​for​ ​people​ ​and​ ​makes them​ ​feel​ ​pitied​ ​instead​ ​of​ ​respect.​ ​All​ ​these​ ​are​ ​symptomatic​ ​of​ ​luck​ ​egalitarians’​ ​lack​ ​of​ ​respect for​ ​people.​ ​Furthermore,​ ​Singapore​ ​in​ ​mandating​ ​CPF​ ​for​ ​all​ ​working​ ​adults,​ ​bases​ ​aid​ ​for​ ​those with​ ​bad​ ​option​ ​luck​ ​on​ ​paternalistic​ ​grounds,​ ​and​ ​thus​ ​is​ ​liberty​ ​infringing​ ​and​ ​disrespectful.​ ​By distinguishing​ ​sharply​ ​between​ ​responsibility​ ​and​ ​bad​ ​luck,​ ​luck​ ​egalitarians​ ​deter​ ​people​ ​from engaging​ ​in​ ​child​ ​rearing​ ​and​ ​makes​ ​people​ ​more​ ​self​ ​interested.​ ​This​ ​is​ ​because​ ​any​ ​bad​ ​luck that​ ​one​ ​faces​ ​from​ ​starting​ ​a​ ​family​ ​is​ ​categorised​ ​under​ ​bad​ ​option​ ​luck​ ​which​ ​is​ ​something that​ ​one​ ​is​ ​held​ ​responsible​ ​for​ ​since​ ​one​ ​chooses​ ​to​ ​start​ ​a​ ​family (Anderson,​ ​299-300).​ ​People will​ ​be​ ​reluctant​ ​in​ ​creating​ ​relationships​ ​with​ ​others​ ​that​ ​might​ ​generate​ ​obligations​ ​to​ ​engage​ ​in caretaking.​ ​Perhaps,​ ​this​ ​could​ ​even​ ​be​ ​the​ ​reason​ ​for​ ​Singapore​ ​low​ ​population​ ​rate.

In​ ​conclusion,​ ​I​ ​contend​ ​that​ ​Singapore,​ ​insofar​ ​as​ ​its​ ​policies​ ​are​ ​principled​ ​on​ ​luck egalitarianism​ ​has​ ​failed​ ​to​ ​create​ ​a​ ​equal​ ​society.​ ​Its​ ​luck​ ​egalitarian​ ​approach​ ​will​ ​have​ ​to​ ​be revised,​ ​perhaps​ ​to​ ​that​ ​of​ ​democratic​ ​equality​ ​as​ ​suggested​ ​by​ ​Anderson​ ​which​ ​I​ ​have​ ​no​ ​more room​ ​to​ ​discuss​ ​in​ ​this​ ​essay.




Dworkin,​​ R.​​ (1981). ​​What​​ is ​​equality?​ ​Part ​​2: ​​Equality​​ of ​​resources.​ P​hilosophy​​&​​Public​​Affairs​,​​ 283-345.

Cohen,​ ​G.​ ​A.​ ​(1989).​ ​On​ ​the​ ​currency​ ​of​ ​egalitarian​ ​justice.​ ​​Ethics​,​ ​​99​(4),​ ​906-944.

Anderson,​​ E.​​S. ​​(1999).​​What​ ​is ​​the ​​Point ​​of ​​Equality? ​E​thics​, ​​​109​(2), ​​287-337.

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

At Yale-NUS College, we are thinking about ideals of equality and democracy, and how they relate to practice, in Singapore and in the wider world.

This website showcases our reflections.

Articles were originally submitted as course papers for Professor Sandra Field’s classes Contemporary Egalitarianism and Democratic Theory.

The Equality&Democracy project has been made possible through the support of a Teaching Innovation Grant from the Yale-NUS Centre for Teaching and Learning: ‘Applying Political Philosophy to Real World Cases’.

Copyright © 2018 Equality & Democracy.
All rights Reserved.