Sufficientarianism and the separateness of persons

Shlomi Segall*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Utilitarians are said to be indifferent between interpersonal and intrapersonal transfers. In doing so, they fail to register the separateness of persons. This 'separateness of persons' objection has been traditionally used against utilitarianism, but more recently against prioritarianism. In this paper, I examine how yet another distributive view, namely sufficientarianism, fares in this respect. Sufficientarians famously believe that while inequality as such does not matter, what does matter is that all individuals meet some adequate threshold (say, of well-being). It is often taken for granted that sufficientarianism does not violate the separateness of persons. In this paper, I seek to show that that is not the case. The main challenge, however, proves to be formulating an accurate understanding of what the separateness of persons precisely means. I offer several interpretations and argue that sufficientarianism, surprisingly, violates them all. Sufficientarianism, just like utilitarianism does not respect the separateness of persons.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)142-155
Number of pages14
JournalPhilosophical Quarterly
Issue number274
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2018.


  • Prioritarianism
  • Separateness of persons
  • Sufficientarianism
  • Utilitarianism


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