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Sufficiency Grounded as Sufficiently Free: A Reply to Shlomi Segall

Journal of Applied Philosophy

Published online on


Telic sufficientarianism is the view that it is better, other things equal, if people are lifted above some sufficiency threshold of special moral importance. In a recent contribution, Shlomi Segall has raised the following objection to this position: The telic ideal of sufficiency can neither be grounded on (i) any personal value, nor (ii) any impersonal value. Consequently, sufficientarianism is groundless. This article contains a rejoinder to this critique. Its main claim is that the value of autonomy holds strong potential for grounding sufficiency. It argues, firstly, that autonomy carries both personal value for its recipient as well as impersonal value, and that both of these values are suitable for grounding sufficiency. It thus follows that we should reject both (i) and (ii). Secondly, although autonomy is presumably the strongest candidate for grounding sufficiency, the article provides some counterargument to Segall's rejection of the other candidates — the impersonal value of virtue; the personal value for the allocator; and the personal value for others. If the arguments are sound, they show that we need not worry about sufficientarianism being groundless.