by Ted Honderich

The fundamental question to which liberalism, conservatism and other such things give answers or should give answers, and arguments for the answers, is sometimes called the question of justice. It is the question not of what laws there are, but of what laws there ought to be, how societies ought to be. Better, it is the question of who ought to have what. An answer needs first to decide on a prior question. Of what ought who to have what shares or amounts? My answers are given in this paper. The first, to the prior question,  has to do with our great desires, and the wretchedness or other distress of having them unfulfilled. Other answers have to do with bad answers to the main question, and then the right one. Morality has a majesty. Despite ourselves, and yet to ourselves, it stands over the rest of our existence, in particular over our self-interest in its various forms. To my mind it is the Principle of Humanity above all that has that majesty. For a more recent exposition go to The Principle of Humanity Stated and Defended. There is a little more about it in another older piece What Equality Comes to -- The Principle of Humanity and in effect in what comes before it, What Equality is Not. There is rather more, of a different kind, in a later book Humanity, Terrorism and Terrorist War: Palestine, 9/11, Iraq, 7/7... .published in the U.S. under the title Right and Wrong, and Palestine, 9/11, Iraq, 7/7....


Every political philosophy, ideology, hope of a people, political movement and party creed should begin from a response to the question of what well-being there ought to be, and, whether as means or end, what distress.

        Evidently an amount of distress can sometimes be a means, a price that ought to be paid in order to avoid more of it. Some say, differently, in connection with punishment in particular, that others deserve distress: it is to be imposed not as a means to what will then happen, but merely for what has already happened. Also, it may indeed be that to pursue the largest possible amount of well-being for a society and the least of distress would sometimes be to arrive at an unjust or iniquitious sharing of it. Further, it may be true of well-being and distress, as commonly it is taken to be of wealth and income, that the totals are less important than who has it, those who struggle and those who do not, those who produce and those who do not, the inheritors and the unlucky, and so on.

            Whatever propositions or complications there are along these lines, it must be that every political philosophy and the like should proceed from an explicit response to the question of the distribution of well-being and distress: who is to have what amounts? Answering takes less time than answering another still larger question, that of actions, campaigns, policies, tactics and institutions -- of how to secure and to hang on to the proper distribution. Still, there is the requirement of rationality that the end be given before means are considered, and therefore the question of distribution comes first. This essay considers it, and what seems to be the proper and true response to it.


            For a start, we need to give greater content to the fundamental ideas of well-being and distress. They are to be understood as two kinds of human experience, those in which desires are satisfied and those in which desires are frustrated. They can in fact be identified with the relatively clear ideas of satisfaction and frustration, clear because of their connection with action. There is that test of whether someone is satisfied or not. In a different and secondary usage of a familiar kind, we may speak of degrees of well-being or satisfaction some of which are in fact distress or frustration, but that will not be our usual procedure.

Desires are to be conceived in so large a way as to include needs, passions, wants, commitments, loyalties and felt obligations, life-plans, and more. They then include what in a more restricted sense of the word are not or might not be desires: certain feelings for others, keeping faith, a determination to preserve one's integrity, being willing to pay a high price to achieve excellence, and so on. Let us proceed in a way which has not enough familiarity, by quickly specifying general categories of desire, in this case six. They have to do with subsistence, further material goods, freedom, respect, personal relations, and culture.1

            It is not in dispute, despite the existence of those who give up their lives for various ends, that the primary desire is for subsistence, one's own and that of some other persons, often one's partner and children. This is the desire for that minimum of food, shelter, strength, and perhaps satisfactory activity which will sustain a lifetime. A lifetime is to be understood more in terms of an average life- expectancy of 77 years rather than, say, 40. The desire is primary in that there is a wide if limited generalization to the effect that people, if they must choose, choose to realize this desire rather than any other. With respect to the desires to follow, no serious ranking or ordering is intended.

            The second category, for further material goods, can briefly be described as one realized in much of the rich world and frustrated in much of the poor world. It includes desires for income and wealth, unimportant as ends and important as certain means. They are means to the other further material goods: relief from pain, help with disability, a home and a tolerable wider environment, food and drink above the level of subsistence, adequate medical care, material support of several kinds in adversity and misfortune, means of travel and communication, and a good deal more. The category includes items in a small way denigrated only by those who possess them, consumer goods.

            Thirdly, we desire freedom and power in several settings. Most important are political and other rights in a self-determining homeland. It would be contentious, in the present discussion, quickly to identify these rights with those realized to some extent in western or liberal  democratic states. The question is difficult, but what I have in mind are political and other rights denied by hegemonies, occupying forces, tyrannies, imperialisms, totalitarianisms, and the like. We also desire degrees of freedom and power in lesser contexts. Work is perhaps foremost here. There is also the pursuit of one's individual form of private life.

            Respect and self-respect, which perhaps are less separable than has sometimes been supposed2, constitute the fourth category. We desire standing as individuals, and some standing as groups. The means to this standing are in part the possibilities of achievement, at bottom work. The means are in another part the attitudes of others. It is not enough to have work, and some limited recognition of personal achievements and virtues, if one is the victim of racism, severe class-condescension, denignation for disability, or any other denial of common humanity.

            Fifthly, there is the desire for personal and wider human relationships. What comes first here are needs, commitments, and many feelings having to do with the family. There are counterparts in other personal connections. More widely, there are desires having to do with community and fraternity. We want to live lives which give a large place to connection with a few others, a connection of intimacy, protection, support, identity of hope, and many like things. This connection with a few others needs the supplement of association with larger groups, notably one's society.

We desire, finally, the goods of culture. We pursue knowledge, awareness and judgement, and the means to these, of which the principal one is education. No one chooses a general ignorance or incompetence. We want, as well, the experience of art or the lesser but real satisfaction of entertainment. Religion enters here as well, and also other greater or smaller traditions of races, peoples, nations, regions, and places.

            These six categories are indeed under-described: what has been said of them catches very little of the richness and wretchedness of  human experience. They are given, however, not in the illusion that they do more than fix attention on the real subject of our inquiry. That subject is not caught hold of by way of silent assumption, by any such generic notion as satisfaction or happiness or indeed well-being or distress, taken by itself, or by any abstract account of experience in terms, say, of preference under conditions of risk. Certainly the categories make evident the interdependence of our desires. The first, for subsistence, is necessary to the rest. Kinds of freedom are essential to respect and self-respect, and to certain of the goods of culture. Respect and self-respect themselves play a role in the achievement of the goods of culture. Categories so related do not thereby fail to be categories.

            Our question is this: what is to be the distribution of this well-being and distress, or who is to have what amounts? The question presupposes that we can characterize possible lifetimes in terms of well-being and distress as these have now been conceived. Taken naturally, the question presupposes that we can so characterize possible lifetimes in what I shall call a cardinal rather than an ordinal way, which is sometimes doubted. The question presupposes an impossibility if all we can sensibly say about a pair of possible lifetimes is that one would be of greater or lesser satisfaction and frustration than another. There may be a temptation to transfer scepticisms or resistances from other inquiries to our own, and so to suppose this is all we can say. It seems evident on reflection, that it is not.

            Consider three possible lifetimes: one cut greatly short since the person fails to come up to the level of subsistence: one where the person comes up to that level and also satisfies the desires of two other categories, perhaps those for further material goods and personal relations; and one involving satisfaction of all six categories of desire; subsistence, further material goods, freedom, respect, personal relations, culture. Are we restricted to saying, with good sense, only that the first possible lifetime involves less well-being than the second and third, and the second less than the third? It is essential to see how much less we would have to say than we can rightly say, how trivial rather than rightly substantial our judgement of the three lifetimes would be, if this were so.

            If we were so restricted, we could reasonably suppose, as rightly we do not, that there was nothing much to choose between the three, and no significant necessity of action, since the differences between the three were insignificant. The three lifetimes might be related in the way of three payments, of $5000.00, $5000.01, and 5000.02, considered only in terms of purchasing power. Again, if we could with good sense make only the ordinal judgement, we should have no reason whatever for thinking it a bad policy to concentrate entirely on aid to the second person. This would in fact be reasonable on the supposition that only a lifetime of the third kind was in fact tolerable, and there was no possibility of making the first life better than the second. Other absurd consequences, all conflicting with what evidently is our situation of judgement, also follow from the supposition that we can characterize lifetimes only ordinally in terms of well-being and distress.

            At this juncture it is possible to make a certain mistake, that of identifying judgements of amount, which are essentially cardinal, with judgements only of number. We are all of us in possession of an effective system of non-numerical classification of amounts of distress and well-being. In judging a life to be one of wretchedness, we plainly are not only judging it to be of less well-being than a tolerable life or one of abundance. We are judging amount of frustration, and the ordinal proposition is an entailment of small interest. A life in which only the first category of desires is satisfied is one of great frustration, as distinct merely from being a life of greater frustration than others. In fact we have a developed conceptual system for such judgement of possible lifetimes, as of much else that engages our attention. To mention only a few other general conceptions, a possible lifetime may be one of wretchedness, subsistence, pain, being crippled, deprivation, poverty, fear, sorrow, tolerableness, security, satisfaction, fullness, indulgence, or satiety.

That there is a vagueness about these essentially cardinal descriptions, and that we may have recourse to a criterion of action to fix amounts of well-being and distress, does not at all establish that all that can sensibly be said about the wretched life of a parent whose children are starving, or the life of a brother or sister dying of AIDs, is that it is a life of lesser well-being than the lives of people we know better. The question of well-being, then, does not presuppose what cannot be done. It presupposes, moreover, what is done all the time, in particular by governments in the allocation of resources. The decisions in question are not ordinal and are not dependent on certain small if increasing aids of quantification. That there is a large need for old-age pensions as against a small one for certain roads is not merely the judgement that the first is greater, or has a higher place in an ordinal sequence.

            It is less important, but true, that we can to an extent reasonably assign numerical values to possible lifetimes. As remarked, no serious ranking was intended in the listing of the five categories of desire other than subsistence. They can reasonably enough be taken as of equal value. There is no error, and some use, in assigning +1 and -1 to the full satisfaction and full frustration of each of these categories of desire. Greater values, +2 and -2 at least, can reasonably be assigned to the first category. This assignment is not made useless by the existence of some individuals who place different values on, say, art and personal relations, and forego the latter for the former.

It is a recommendation of fixing attention on the categories of well-being and distress, rather than proceeding in terms of silent assumption, or only generic notions, or preference-systems, that it becomes plain that another problem is not serious. I have in mind interpersonal comparison. It would indeed be absurd to assume of a rich man and a poor, each preferring to have another 100, that their satisfaction in having it would be identical. Here and in some other contexts, it is mistaken to assume that satisfaction is, so to speak, uniform.

However, who will maintain that we cannot usefully inquire into the distribution of well-being since, say, the miserablenesses of two physically-like persons, both having only and exactly the same means to the satisfaction of the subsistence-desire, may be so different as to make the enterprise pointless? Who will maintain that there may be nothing to choose or not enough, in terms of 'intensity of experience', between the life of a weak child who is satisfying only the subsistence desire and the life of a lad satisfied or more or less sure to be satisfied in all of the six categories?

            Still, the assumption of interpersonal comparability, in connection with well-being and distress, is precisely that: an assumption taken to be defensible and made for a further purpose, in this case inquiry. What is to follow here does not depend on the assumption's being taken as an exceptionless general truth.3 Such assumptions are ordinary and essential, and we can be justified in acting on them. For example, some minority of people will have their lives worsened, for whatever reason, by being entitled to an old-age pension. This does not put in question the propriety of acting on a certain assumption about need which is close enough to true. Nor, given our resources, would it be right to invest heavily in a procedure for finding the exceptions in order to deny them pensions.

To come to the end of these defences, it is true that the characterization of the six categories of desire is a matter of decision as well as perception of fact. This is as it must be. The characterization might properly be said to be arbitrary if it denied that any other categorial description of desires was possible. It does not. What is important is that it be clear and arguable, which I take it to be, and that it be useful, which I trust it will be seen to be. There is in fact no great disagreement, at a certain level of generality, about the goods of human life.


            We might linger over many things, and hence fail to come to our question. Not to linger, but rather to come to it, what are we to aim at in terms of lives of well-being and distress? The most developed answers of a traditional kind are principles of utility, all of which can be stated in terms of the given conception of well-being. On the fundamental one, we must secure the distribution which produces the best balance of well-being over distress. The Utilitarians did not suppose this could have a certain consequence, where the policy producing the best total was such that the well-being went mostly to one minority, class, race, or group, and the distress mostly to another. They did not proceed, either, by thinking of a total population as an entity, a singular possessor of experience, and of its balance of well-being as being decisive. It has long been argued, none the less, as already noted, that Utilitarianism may favour majorities at the expense of minorities, or some minorities at the expense of others.

            Utilitarianism has been defended against this by being said to be implicitly egalitarian. I shall not pursue the argument, which has mainly to do with the utility of justice and considerations of decreasing marginal utility. If there were no more than some considerable doubt about the consequences of utilitarian principles, it would be a good idea to take up something else, about which there is not a doubt. It is not as if we knew in advance that there is some special virtue in utilitarian principles, not having to do with equality, which cannot be preserved in a more explicit principle.

            There is a further consideration. Even if the fundamental principle of utility, say, by way of various true minor premises, did preserve what we want of equality, it would still be unsatisfactory. This has to do with the fact that general answers to the question of well-being cannot be regarded as fully articulated major premises to be connected by tight reasoning with conclusions about particular political, social, and economic policies. In this world as it is, what may be called the merely logical properties of these general answers are not of the first importance.

This is so because there is enough complexity in our situation that the best that can be done is to make judgements directed or guided, as distinct from strictly entailed, by an answer to the question of well-being. An answer can only be a kind of directive. If all possible precision is important, so is force and emphasis. Principles of utility, as expressed, do not give a good place, let alone prominence, to their supposed egalitarian content. A good flag is not of uncertain colour.

            Perhaps understandably, there are no developed answers to the question of well-being in terms of desert or retribution. The question, of course, is wider than that of punishment, or punishment and reward. However, I shall in what follows have something to say of retribution as a maxim of justice. There are doctrines, primarily about what were called actions, tactics, institutions and so on, which bear on the question of well-being, and do have about them some tang of an idea of desert. One, so expressed as to make its bearing clear, is that there ought to be that distribution of well-being which results from a certain principle of liberty, as it is called, about the first-ownership and the transfer of certain fundamental means to well-being, notably material goods and labour.4 First-ownership should involve a man's mixing his labour with something and in a way not worsening the situation of others, and any transfer should at least in a very weak sense be voluntary.

The doctrine is badly summed up in the maxim 'From each as he chooses, to each as he is chosen.' The tendency of this doctrine, in terms of distribution of well-being, is not entirely clear. Just the actual distribution which now exists is not favoured, since it is in part the result of social and hence governmental interference in what is defined as liberty. The defence made for the favoured distribution is in terms of certain desires in but one of the categories of well-being, the one having to do with freedoms. I shall not discuss the doctrine, but something more of relevance to it will be said.

            Are there any developed egalitarian answers to our question? There is nothing to which so much attention has been given as to principles of utility. What will come to mind, although its description as egalitarian can be disputed, and will be here, is that there should be an equal distribution of well-being and distress, perhaps that each individual should have the same balance of well-being over distress. No doubt this has been proposed by some egalitarians, but, if it is not confused with anything else, as it can be, it is unacceptable.5 The short but sound argument against this -- against what can be called the Principle of Any Equality -- is that an inequality of satisfaction is preferable to an equality of frustration, an inequality at high levels of satisfaction preferable to an equality at a lower level. Nor can we take up the Principle of Greatest Equal Well-Being, which is open to the same kind of objection. It is that we should pursue that particular equal distribution in which people have more well-being than in any other equal distribution.

            Some will be inclined to say a word in defence of the mentioned equalities as against the inequalities, or at any rate the second equality. They may say that inequality is inimical to self-respect, and hence that an inequality at high levels of satisfaction is not preferable to an equality at a lower level. The reply must be that while there may be a loss of self-respect on the part of those who are least well-off, given the inequality, they remain better off than under the alternative equality. Our subject matter is well-being, in all of its categories, and not anything else. It is not to the point that an inequality of material goods, at high levels, may not be preferable to an equality of material goods at a lower level, precisely for such reasons as self-respect.

            There is also an answer said to be of an egalitarian kind given to our question by Rawls.6 It is that well-being and distress in a society are to be distributed primarily according to one consideration, then according to a second, and then according to a third. When there is a conflict, as there will be, the first wins over the second and third, the second over the third. The first is the Principle of Liberty: each person to have that maximum of rights to liberty consistent with everyone having the same. The second is the second part of what is called the Difference Principle, that there is to be an equal opportunity to get into any superior positions of socio-economic superiority or difference, as defined by such goods as income and wealth, power and standing. The third consideration is the first part of the Difference Principle, that socio-economic goods are to be distributed in the particular way that leaves the worst-off in such goods better off than they would be given any other way of the distribution.

            This view is much elaborated and yet for several reasons may be thought to remain indeterminate. There is remarkably little discussion of the given liberties, but, 'roughly speaking', they are 'political liberty (the right to vote and to be eligible for public office) together with freedom of speech and assembly, liberty of conscience and freedom of thought; freedom of the person along with the right to hold (personal) property; and freedom from arbitrary arrest and seizure as defined by the concept of the rule of law'.7 Presumably also included are other rights before the law. It is not easy to judge the effect of this first-priority principle on the distribution of well-being and distress. This has much to do with the fact that what are in question are indeed rights rather than powers. There has been a long history of argument to the effect that mere rights, unsupported by economic and other resources, are of a limited and uncertain value.

Nor is it, of course, that the second part of the Difference Principle guarantees anything like an economic quality. Conjoined with certain propositions about the need for the incentives of socio-economic inequality, it may issue in striking inequality. Consider then the following description: 'distribution of well-being and distress considerably determined by an equal distribution of rights supported by one or another distribution of socio-economic resources'. The description may be thought to pick out nothing definite. It is worth adding that the absence of a specification of 'the right to hold (personal) property' makes by itself for an indeterminateness of considerable consequence.

Rawls's theory of justice, nonetheless, is a kind of culmination of liberal thinking, and, as lately remarked, a good deal more will be said of it, particularly his argument for his principles -- and an ensuing obligation we have to obey the law.8 But let us now consider something else.


            The proper response to the question of well-being is at bottom a simple one which has been undeveloped despite being presupposed by many doctrines about tactics and institutions, and which in fact fails to get expression in Rawls's theory of justice. For the reason given in connection with liberties, and others, it is not clear that it is consistent with that theory, even if the theory can be taken out of its given context, which is single society.

The principle is that we should have actually effective policies whose end is to make well-off those who are badly-off -- get them out of distress and into well-being. The principle, which will be more fully stated in due course and which for a reason to which I shall come will be given the new name of being the Principle of Humanity rather than the Principle of Equality, has to do directly with well-being rather than socio-economic goods. Like other responses to the question of well being, including the utilitarian, it would have little force if construed in a merely ordinal way. It is not to be confused with the 'negative utilitarian principle' that we should as far as possible reduce the numbers of badly-off, which was so taken as absurdly to justify ending their lives.

            The population to which the principle applies is that of persons generally, as distinct from persons within a given society or nation. Several future generations must be included, those about which we can make more or less rational predictions. The limitation to such foreseeable generations is essential if the principle is to be at all practical. Needless to say, taking account of the future raises difficulty. It would be wrong to give great weight to any vision of future Utopia, or, for that matter, future ruin. What is obviously necessary is that we follow certain rules, of which a principal one is that a lesser probability of greater distress is to count for only as much as a greater probability of lesser distress. Another is that in general we must assign lesser probabilities to events in the distant as against the nearer future. The upshot is that future generations will count for less.

            There is the necessity of reflecting on the restriction of the principle to one species. We should be taken aback by the thought that within a century or two much of our present use of animals may quite generally be regarded with moral disgust. Whether or not this comes about, it seems evident that the lives of animals call for greater regard than we give them. Still, as you will guess, I do not propose that we take the Principle of Humanity to cover more than the human species. One better reason is that other animals have very greatly different capabilities of well-being and distress. What is clearly true, however, is that animals and their distress and well-being must put some constraint on the operation of the Principle of Humanity. I shall not attempt to discuss it here.

            Taking people generally, of several generations, who are to be taken as the badly-off?

Certainly to be included are (a) those persons who fail to satisfy even their subsistence desires, and therefore not only desires for further material goods but also to some extent desires in all categories. The latter is necessarily true if, as seems necessary, we take the desires for respect, personal relations, freedom, and culture to be desires for a lifetime's satisfactions of them. The people in question will include individuals of various life-spans, certainly. What they have in common, in terms of length of life, is that they die at one or another premature age.

Also to be included are (b) those who subsist but lack further material goods, and hence are certain to be frustrated in other ways as well, notably with respect to freedom. It also seems to me necessary that we include others in the badly-off. This comes about partly as a consequence of having to pay attention, in a way, to the subject of tactics and institutions. It is not to be supposed, given certain political, psychological, and other realities, that there will or can be a total or even an effective concentration on groups (a) and (b). It seems in accord with the impulse of the Principle of Humanity, taking it to be a principle which has to do with the possible, in a realistic sense, to bring in other groups.

It would be unrealistic and mistaken, given the principle, to object to the endeavours of individuals who choose to concentrate on (c) people badly-off in that they lack the great satisfactions of freedom, say freedom in a homeland. So with concentration on (d) those who lack respect. The same may apply to endeavours in connection with (e) people who subsist but have a minimal degree of satisfaction in all the other categories.

So I take it in what follows that the badly-off or those in degrees of distress, in terms of the population of all persons, are to be understood to be members of the groups (a) to (e). The better-off, those enjoying degrees of well-being, are the remainder of all persons.

            It is not inconsistent with the Principle of Humanity, however, to concern oneself with a single nation, indeed one of the nations of the rich world. Again there are relevant political, psychological, and other realities. There are members of group (a) here. Their existence cannot be overlooked. There are also members of (b), including many of the unemployed, and of (c), (d) and (e).

            Other groups in the rich societies will come to mind. Here a large majority of people are considerably satisfied in all the six categories, more than minimally satisfied. We make distinctions within this large group. By way of one very general one, there are the poorly-paid and the better-paid. The poorly-paid are not well-satisfied in terms of further material goods, and hence in certain ways and degrees not well-satisfied in freedom and respect. Ought they not to have been included, from the point of view of the Principle of Humanity, as a group who are badly-off? The question is not one to be answered just by discovery, so to speak. We are specifying a principle, and the answer given specifies it further. The principle is to be so understood that this group does not count as badly-off. This is not to say that it cannot defensibly make demands of the better-paid, under certain assumptions and by way of different and lesser considerations.

            Before considering a bit further the poorly-paid and the better-paid, in connection with the specific policies mentioned in the initial statement of the Principle of Humanity, we need to give further attention to the badly-off as defined by the six categories. The principle is about them and not necessarily about the worst-off in those categories. To proceed quickly, if too abstractly, consider a situation where, say, 999 similar-sized groups of people are very badly-off indeed, and one similarly-sized group is trivially worse-off. Consider a choice between a programme which trivially improves the lot of the single group, and a programme which does not help the single group but very greatly improves the lot of the 999. It is hard to resist the unhappy inclination to prefer the second policy.

            It may be that conflicts between the claims of the badly-off and the worst-off do not often occur. In any case, I shall not now say much of how to reach a precise formulation of what seems forced upon us: in part that a large gain for many, say an escape from mere subsistence, may outweigh the abandoning of a few in yet greater distress. We do not actually have a guide until we supply definitions for 'a large gain', 'many', and so on. Are we in this neighbourhood forced to proceed in a piecemeal way, sometimes called intuitionist, deciding situations as they come up, sometimes being more moved by the situation of many rather than fewer, sometimes not? This sort of procedure is common, and primitive judgements of the kind must occur somewhere in any evaluate system, but it is not satisfactory here.

We can instead construct a certain rule, or at any rate a set of rules for manageably limited problems: a fundamental one would be that of income. Such a rule can serve purposes of an ordinary decision-specifying principle expressed in general terms. It can reflect our convictions, ensure consistency, and allow for its own revision in the event of conflicting and recalcitrant consequences. In short, it will guide action. To construct it we produce a range of paradigmatic possible choice-situations, and give the choice to be made in each, in some in favour of the worst-off and in others in favour of the badly-off. In any actual choice-situation we decide which paradigm is most applicable, and choose accordingly. Such a rule, which has many analogues, can give us what is as satisfactory as a guide of the ordinary kind, expressed in general terms.

            It may be rightly anticipated that the proposed response to the question of well-being is not a complete answer to it. It has nothing to say of groups of the better-off taken by themselves, say the poorly-paid and the better-paid in rich societies, and their cardinal or ordinal positions. If it were to come about that there were no more of the badly-off, as defined, the principle would have no further use, or rather it would instruct us only to see that no badly-off came into existence.

That the principle has nothing to say of any distributions of well-being, if there are any, that do not affect the badly-off, is a matter of moral concentration. It is a matter of concentration on one human reality, a reality not about to disappear. There is no serious embarrassment in the breadth of the principle, in its being an incomplete answer to the question of well-being. An incomplete answer is not an irrelevant answer. It may be, as in this case, that answer which is taken to be most significant. The conviction here, put quickly, is that what has priority over any other principle for the distribution of things among the better-off is a principle about famine and miserableness and the other kinds of distress.


            The initial statement of the Principle of Humanity was that we are to have actually effective policies whose end is to make better-off those who are badly-off. What are those policies?

There is the policy to be considered, first, of helping the badly-off without at all affecting the well-being of the better-off. If the pie of well-being can be enlarged by a method which does not at all lessen the shares of the better-off, that is to be done. We must act, if we can, on the familiar instruction to raise up those below rather than drag down those above, to level-up rather than level-down. But could we act effectively by only this policy? Could we, for example, simply increase the various material and other goods, the means to well-being? Alternatively, could we transfer sufficient material goods from the better-off without reducing their well-being?

The first idea supposes that we are in something like a circumstance of realizable abundance or plenitude. The supposition is sufficiently uncertain as to make a reliance on it impossible. The second idea is a reasonable one. The better-off waste a great deal. Indeed we waste mountains of means to well-being. Still, it is unclear that we can rely on this alone. We need more than the first policy.

            The second possibility to be considered, then, is precisely a policy of transfer of the means of well-being from the better-off to the badly-off, in the knowledge that this will reduce the well-being of the better-off. It is maintained by many, of course, that there is a serious question of to what extent we can do this. It is maintained, as it has been for long, that policies which greatly or considerably reduce the means of the better-off will in fact fail to be effective transfer-policies. It is also maintained, differently and extremely, that to subtract anything from the means of the better-off will be ineffective. Both claims rest on what is taken to be a fundamental fact of human existence, which is an incentive system's connection with the total pies of means and of well-being, and hence the well-being of the badly-off. The need of the poor is that the rich be rich.

The extreme view, that to subtract any significant amount of the means of the better-off in the world today would necessarily worsen the situation of the badly-off, is of course false. There is only the question of what extent of taking means from the better-off will in fact be successful transfer-policies. What extent of taking from the rich will help the poor? Of the inequalities in means, what fraction of them are in fact not necessary inequalities: those of which is is true that they are needed, given attitudes as they are or can become, in order to serve an end of the badly-off?

            Something related to this is certainly important enough to stand on its own as a policy, the third one. Necessary and unnecessary inequalities in means are in a way relative. That is, a favourable inequality's being necessary is a matter of the attitudes of the person favoured by it. An inequality's being necessary is a matter of its being a necessary incentive, and the latter is a matter of the person's attitudes. He might change, and become less demanding about payment for using his abilities. There is the possibility of practices, not necessarily coercive ones, directed to changing attitudes, so that what are now necessary inequalities cease to be such and can become the subject of effective transfers.

            A fourth policy is implicit in what has been said of our fundamental desires, the first and third above all, those for a decent length of life and for freedoms of various kinds. It is also implicit in the policies we already have -- policies, in a word, for reducing misery and the like. What the fourth policy comes to, then, is that we of course must strive not to act in a positive way to give rise to misery and like -- we must strive not attack lives ourselves. So the policy is a prohibition on wounding, killing, torture, sexual violation, threat, intimidation and other violence and near-violence against individuals.

            Since this policy cannot possible be an absolute one, cannot possibly rule out all uses of force by societies against individuals, or rule out an individual's right to try to save his own life by force, the definition of the policy cannot conceivably be easy. It will be clear that it cannot be a prohibition on all terrorism and state-terrorism. It is a policy about which to think more fully not at this moment but only at the end of a larger inquiry.

            A fifth possible policy of the Principle of Humanity, important to some, has to do with envy. It is claimed that some of the distress of the badly-off is owing to their envy of the better-off, and that this can and should change. We can take it that envy is a feeling owed to relative positions of the envious and the better-off, not to the absolute position of either. That is, the envious would persist in that particular part of their unhappiness owed to envy if both they and the better-off went the same distance up (or down) a scale of well-being. Perhaps, since envy also has to do with the means to well-being, the envious would feel in a way better if certain goods or means to the well-being of the better-off were destroyed, as distinct from transferred to the envious. We can, it is supposed, increase the well-being of the badly-off by putting an end to their envy. This fourth policy is related to the first. Both would help the badly-off without affecting at all the well-being of the better-off.

            There is a sixth and related possibility, which has to do with condescending pride, to give it a mild name, on the part of the better-off. There is satisfaction owed to relative position, to the fact that others have less of well-being or the means to it. This, like envy, is not a matter of absolute level. Condescending pride perhaps may be said to make some contribution to the situation of the badly-off, partly but not wholly by way of giving rise to envy or reinforcing it. An alteration of this pride, then, would somewhat improve the lot of the badly-off.

            Of these six possibilities of improving the lot of the badly-off, the fifth and sixth are not of great significance. It is to be kept in mind that they have to do with one element in one category of well-being, that of respect. The first, at least in part, and the second, third and fourth, are in my view policies that can reasonably be included in the Principle of Humanity.

To say more of the second, about means-transfers that do reduce the well-being of the better-off, should we take it that the Principle of Humanity says nothing, in connection with transferring means and well-being from the better-off, of particular groups of the better-off? Thinking so would not be in accord with the spirit of egalitarianism. It must be that means are to be transferred first from those of the better-off who are better placed than others of the better-off. In terms of the rich societies and the general distinction, effective transfer begins with the better-paid rather than the poorly-paid. What limit is there to the transfer of the means of well-being from the better-off? There is room for choice, but evidently distress must not be increased by the transfer of means. Transfer is not punishment.

            It is essential to remain clear about the goal of the Principle of Humanity. Despite certain possibilities of self-deception and propaganda, the goal is not to lower the absolute well-being of the better-off. The goal is not to level down. That may happen, although the connection between well-being and what we have called the means to it -- about which connection not enough has been said -- is far from simple. It would be consistent with the spirit of egalitarianism to act only on the first of the five policies if it were anything like sufficient itself, rather than the second. To act on the second possibility is then not at all necessarily to be moved by a questionable or base impulse. It is to be moved by the greatest of concerns, that of improving the lot of the badly-off by an effective method. The project remains sufficiently human and proper when the active parties are the would-be beneficiaries. That this method may have the side-effect of reducing the absolute well-being of the better-off is another fact, consistent with the high moral standing of egalitarianism.

            A second and related point is that if we act on the second policy our goal is not that of changing the relative positions of the well-off and the badly-off. In particular it is mistaken somehow to identify or associate the end with envy. The goal of the enterprise is not to approximate to or secure an equality, a certain relationship. Certainly to transfer goods is to do something which has the side-effect of tending to equalize both goods and well-being. The hitherto badly-off in well-being will have more of both, and the hitherto better-off will have less of goods and perhaps of well-being. If the goal of the Principle of Humanity were achieved, there would exist as a second side-effect the equality, so to speak, of all people being other than badly-off. Still, none of this is the end of the enterprise.

It remains true, more important, that changing the relative positions of the better-off and the badly-off is not the goal when particular campaigns or practices have the specific aim of producing an equality of goods, or of approximations to one, as a means to the end of the Principle of Humanity. Such campaigns or practices in certain contexts are the most effective ones. One person one vote is an example. Others, involving material goods, make the correct assumption that a given group of people are in the same need, or roughly equal in their capability to secure well-being from identical shares of resources. Variants of this consideration, that the goal of the Principle of Humanity is not relative, and of the previous consideration, that the goal is not the dragging down of the better-off, apply to the stipulation that in transferring goods from the better-off, the first to be affected should be those best placed, including the better-paid rather than the poorly-paid in the rich societies.

            The Principle of Humanity can now be more fully stated, as follows.

Our end must be to make well-off those who are badly off, by way of certain policies: (1) increasing means to well-being and, more surely, transferring means from the better-off that will not affect their well-being, (2) transferring means from the better-off that will affect their well-being, those at the higher levels to be affected first, and observing a certain limit, (3) reducing the necessity of inequalities, and (4) allowing only what can be called, without definition for now, necessary violence. Further, these policies are to be pursued in part by way of  practices of equality.


            The Principle of Humanity, in earlier versions of this essay, was spoken of, rather, as the Principle of Equality. What is more, arguments were advanced for that name. The matter is larger than a merely teminological one. A proper sense of any principle is or should be conveyed by what it is called. It was my idea, in the past, that a proper sense of the the thing was given by speaking of it as [to Ed: no inverted commas in these cases, please] the Principle of Equality. My reasons were as follows.

The first consisted in several facts mentioned above. These are the two side-effects of concern for the badly-off, these being equalizations or a tendency to them. A second reason, more important, was the noted fact that in many situations and contexts, involving similar need and capability, the most reasonable way of helping the badly-off in well-being is by aiming at an equality of material goods and so on. This is not always true, and that it is not always true is important. Still, it is true enough to go a good way by itself toward making the principle's name natural.

            There was also the third reason that the principle has an excellent claim to be regarded as the principle which has most directed egalitarian struggles throughout history, although these are not too easily defined. It is mistaken to suppose instead that these struggles have been informed by, say, the Principle of Any Equality, or the Principle of Greatest Equal Well-being. These latter principles, as explained, are concerned with relative position, and may have the consequence that the position of the better-off in well-being must be reduced even if this does not improve the absolute position of the poorer-off. These principles may also have the consequence, perhaps intimately connected with the previous one, that certain means to well-being are to be destroyed. These would be means of value to the better-off but for some reason of no use to the poorer-off.

            By way of brief support for the proposition that egalitarianism has in fact been informed by the Principle of Humanity rather than these others, let us take egalitarianism to have consisted in struggles identified by demands for (a) giving 'to each according to their needs' or 'equality of welfare', (b) 'equality of opportunity', and (c) 'equal respect for all'. Were the struggles so identified aimed at equality of well-being, any equality of it, with the possible consequences just mentioned? Were they instead aimed at helping the badly-off? The answer is plain enough. It is plain despite the fact that egalitarianism, like all other human endeavours and traditions, has often enough fallen into confusion, excess, and absurdity.

Those who have been concerned to satisfy the needs and wants of the impoverished and the degraded have not been aiming at a relationship -- an equality, any equality. One may be led into supposing so by the truth that they have often had the subordinate aims of which we know, equalities of means to well-being. But there is no reason, to repeat, to confuse their means and their end. They have not had an end which might have been served by destroying food, say, or trying to make sickness or poverty or disdain universal. They have not sought to have everyone equally in need. Nor is it really arguable that they have had the end of the Principle of Greatest Equal Well-Being.

Those who have struggled for equality of opportunity have been motivated by the vision of full lives for those who have not had them because of want of education or the like. Whatever they have demanded about the distribution of educational resources they have in the relevant sense not been levellers. They have not sought an equality of ignorance, or poor education for everyone. Much the same can be said of those who have been moved by the demand for respect.

            My fourth reason for the name the 'Principle of Equality' seemed the strongest. It has to do with the second reason but certainly is distinct. To use any other name, including `The Principle of Humanity', would make it more likely, to say the least, that the principal means to the principle's end would not get a proper attention. The principal means to the end of helping the badly-off was the means of securing certain equalities of material goods and so on. This, part of the second policy mentioned above, seemed to me fundamental. It was something passed by or resisted. It seemed to me of fundamental importance that the fundamental moral principle, by its name, should convey the essential means to its end, a means which commonly is ignored or obstructed.

            Well, I think differently now. The overwhelming reason, as perhaps you will anticipate, is that the great end of the principle, its raison d'etre so to speak, should not be lost sight of. It sums up a morality of humanity, fellow-feeling or generosity. That is its nature, a concern and determination having to do with people in distress, people with bad lives. Not to have this salient is no service to thinking about the matter. Also, it leaves some of us unclear about the moral imperative of the thing, and enables others of us to avoid it. To repeat something said in another connection, a good flag is not of uncertain colour.

That does not substract any of the principle's concerns with equality or put into question that it has been fundamental and central to egalitarianism. It must not distract us, either, from the campaigns for equalities of various kinds that are essential. In that connection, it is worth looking at the relation of the Principle of Humanity to familiar principles, rules, maxims, and propositions mentioning equality. If we accept the principle, it follows that some of these are to be accepted, others amended or rejected, rejected.

To specify these consequences is to give further content to the principle. It is in part through its own corollaries that so general a principle becomes clearer. My other intention in surveying these consequences is to argue that independently of the Principle of Humanity we or anyway many of us are in fact committed to moving toward or inclined to many of them. It appears that we favour or will come to favour things in accord with the principle and not those that conflict with it. Hence my second intention is to provide one basic argument for the principle, that increasingly it reflects ordinary enlightened convictions and feelings.9

(1) The day has passed when it could be said that the Principle of Formal Equality, fundamentally that like cases should be treated alike, is the only acceptable upshot of egalitarian reflection. Still, not long ago it was regularly supposed that what egalitarianism comes to is only this, to put it a bit more fully, that no one shall be held to have a claim to better treatment in advance of general grounds being produced. The principle can be realized in a racist society, or indeed in any society which follows rules of any kind. It amounts to an injunction to consistency. The Principle of Formal Equality is consistent with the Principle of Humanity, but cannot be said to amplify it, or to be a consequence or corollary of it.

            (2) There are a number of what can be called elitist maxims of equality. One, as the phrase is sometimes understood, is 'to each according to his ability'. A second one, again as sometimes understood, is 'to each according to his capacity to develop'. Others, more likely to go unstated, are 'to each according to his race', or 'his colour' or 'his nationality'. There is the possibility of taking the second maxim differently, in such a way that it may be in accord with the Principle of Humanity. Truly elitist maxims conflict with the principle, and they also conflict with ordinary and growing attitudes and indeed with rising institutions.

(3) What of the principle of retributive justice: to each according to his desert? To speak of punishment, it is essential to distinguish between its rules and the principle of retribution. If some people defend the rules, such as the rule that only the guilty are to be punished, by referring to desert, others do so as reasonably by referring to prevention, perhaps deterrence. If we now ask the question of what goals might be served by deterrence, one is obviously the goal of the Principle of Humanity. Certain rules of punishment, then, are in accord with, or indeed follow from, the Principle of Humanity.

There is conflict of a kind between the Principle of Humanity and the principle of retribution, but there is room for a good deal of reflection on the latter. It is arguable that the principle, on full inquiry, reduces very roughly to this: a man is to have a penalty which (a) exactly satisfied the grievance-desire to which he has given rise, (b) will be in accordance with certain rules of equal treatment, and (c) will cost him less distress than it would someone else who had to undergo it.10 Given this view, it is possible to argue that the principle of desert is something whose materials testify to the correctness of the egalitarian's conviction that the fundamental thing is the reduction of distress.

            It can be argued in any case that ordinary enlightened attitudes about the rules of punishment and about retribution go in the direction of the Principle of Humanity. Particular rules which cannot be seen as serving a tolerable deterrent end are at least suspect. It is not too much to say that the principle of retribution, despite the materials in it, is in decline.

(4) 'To and from each according to his voluntary consents and agreements.' This principle, if taken in some ways, including one which makes it a partial summary of a doctrine mentioned above, does fight with the Principle of Humanity. The central point is that voluntary agreements under a certain loose definition of voluntariness may be agreements which precisely defeat the aim of the Principle of Humanity. They may indeed serve to reduce the well-being of the badly-off. Under other restricted understandings of the quoted principle it is in accord with the Principle of Humanity. It is a part of well-being to have certain agreements protected. If the principle is taken in the first ways, so as to defend distributions of well-being that result from minimally voluntary agreements, as when a man agrees to work for a certain wage when the only alternative is deprivation for his children, there is declining support for it.

            (5) There are a number of what can be called weak principles and rules of equality. One is to the effect that we are to pay an equal respect to everyone. No one is to be ignored. Others specify certain absolutely minimal ways in which all people are to be treated. Their 'basic' needs, perhaps what we have identified as subsistence-desires, are to be satisfied. It will be evident that the Principle of Humanity conflicts with such principles, if going far beyond them is taken for conflict. These and other weak principles are no longer ordinarily regarded as sufficient. It is thought by very many that individuals have rights which go well beyond them. There has been a change in attitudes which supports the Principle of Humanity.

            (6) There is the matter of equal liberties, with liberties taken in some such way as in connection with Rawls. We have the proposition then that all are to be equal in roughly the legal, political, and intellectual rights defended in Britain and America. As already suggested, equal rights conjoined with unequal socio-economic powers are of limited value, to say the least. It is clear, however, that the Principle of Humanity is at least in accord with equal distributions of rights supported by like distributions of power. There is a change of attitudes in this direction.

            (7) It is said that those who make equal efforts are to be equally rewarded, and still more than those who make lesser efforts. Or, differently, those who not merely try but also succeed are to be rewarded in one way, and those who do not succeed, whether or not they try, are to be less well rewarded. Another related rule has to do with contribution, with or without effort or work. The first two rules, but hardly the third, are sometimes in accordance with the idea that we should have any favourable inequalities of goods and well-being which in fact are necessary to the end of the Principle of Humanity.

There is the difficulty that it is far from easy to establish that those who carry forward certain jobs, and hence make larger contributions to the total means of well-being, would not do so without the rewards they are getting. Many jobs and careers bring great satisfaction. It is not surprising that many egalitarians are sceptical about arguments to the effect that company directors, say, must be paid more because of 'the burden of responsibility' which they carry. It may seem that in general this responsibility is not merely bearable but desirable, the proof being that it is much sought after.

Also, to look back to the third of our policies in connection with the Principle of Humanity, it is to be kept in mind that the principle has the consequence that we should attempt to reduce what is necessary in the way of certain incentives for the given end. It is not possible to say that there now exists some ordinary support for only those rules of effort and productivity which in fact are consonant with the Principle of Humanity. Perhaps there is movement in that direction. Something of the same sort can be said of the desirability of changing incentive-demands.

            (8) The Principle of Humanity has informed egalitarian progress, and the latter has included the struggle for equality of opportunity. Still, there is more to be said about the latter, of relevance to a new and more perceptive egalitarian demand. Opportunity may be taken to consist in the use of certain resources, including abilities of other people. If we are to improve the lot of the badly-off, then we shall not always proceed most efficiently by securing equality of opportunity. We shall do so by securing a certain inequality.

If we regard well-being as in part a function of opportunity on the one hand and the innate capabilities of individuals on the other and it is the case that some individuals are less capable than others, we shall sometimes do best by securing that they have more opportunity. The Principle of Humanity does not derive from a view of life as simply a curious race where all attention is given to an equal start and no attention to some being lame. There seems little doubt that ordinary moral attitudes are changing in this direction. That is, there is movement toward proper inequalities of opportunity. We are now familiar with the idea of using more resources for the less able in education. There is also reverse discrimination.

(9) If there are circumstances where capabilities and needs are unequal, there are also other circumstances, already emphasized, where given people are roughly equal in a certain capability or need. Here the Principle of Humanity requires that there be a rule of equal distribution of material and other goods. There are many such rules, guiding many practices. The rules have an insufficient acceptance.

            (10) Finally, there is the maxim 'To each according to his needs', with needs fully conceived. The maxim may be supplemented by another, 'from each according to his ability', understood in a certain way. Given narrow views of needs, noted above, the first rule falls short of being a version of the Principle of Humanity. Under another reading, the maxim is in fact tantamount to the principle. It is unique among maxims about equality, and cannot be regarded as merely one among many.

So much for a survey of the consequences of the Principle of Humanity for maxims and other thoughts having to do with equality. There is another possible survey, more difficult but capable of shedding at least as much light on the Principle of Humanity. It takes us in the direction of the question of tactics and institutions mentioned at the beginning, and is of the general political consequences of the Principle of Humanity -- political consequences traditionally conceived.

            If that principle is the principle of the Left, or the Right, or the Centre, then it is the principle of the Left.11 Indeed, the Left in politics is best defined by way of it. It is some parties of the Left, further, that have actually done most for progress toward realization of the principle. Certainly the principle has sometimes been espoused by the Right and the Centre, but typically in conjunction with contradictory or conflicting impulses, among them the impulse to believe that great inequalities in distribution of the means to well-being are required to protect the grim state of the badly-off from being even more grim. The New Labour Party in Britain is an outstanding example, to me an awful one. Still, there can be disagreement about the political consequences of the Principle of Humanity. More should be said about self-deception in political philosophy, and also the pretence of self-deception, perhaps not only on the Right.

The Principle of Humanity, secondly, at this time as at most times, is the principle not of conservation but of change. That of course is not the same as saying that it is the principle of the Left. The principle, thirdly, may or may not be the principle of democracy, by which is meant what we now call democracy -- once known to others as bourgeois democracy, with some reason. The question is not easy, and certainly not one which allows for brevity. There evidently are many circumstances where the Principle of Humanity issues in democracy. The difficulty is that certain non-democracies can also be seen as in accord with the principle. Their far greater approximation to economic equality is of great importance. The principle, fourthly, has sometimes issued in revolution and it has indeed been behind acts and campaigns of terrorism. It has had to do, fifthly, with provision for free and equal expression of opinion. With the aid of certain suppositions it does provide an argument for some violence. With the aid of other suppositions it provides a more certain argument for free expression.

            It will be as well to say a word more on terrorism, and in particular on what can be called  terrorism for humanity. What it is, by one rough understanding, is terrorism on behalf of humanity, on behalf of people in general who are in distress, all of them. What it is, by another rough understanding, is terrorism out of humanity, terrorism that at least may be owed to that disposition of some of us that is our humanity, generosity or fellow-feeling. Terrorism for humanity, by a third and best understanding, is terrorism directed to the end of the Principle of Humanity or a related end. It is terrorism more or less directed to the end of the Principle of Humanity -- reducing wretchedness and other forms of distress. It gets its end from that morality of which I take the Principle of Humanity to be the best statement. You will not need assuring, I hope, that terrorism for humanity so understood is already right -- that it is morally defensible by definition. That is no part of the idea.12

            The Principle of Humanity is not the only conceivable formulation of the morality in question, and it requires enlargement in several ways. But surely it is the proper and true response to the question of well-being. It is, to my mind, the best formulation of the greatest of moralities. That is not so controversial a conclusion as some may too quickly suppose. There remains the other large question, that of tactics and institutions, to which we have latterly approached a bit more closely. There is more room for dispute here. Certainly some 'egalitarian' means to the end of making better-off those who are badly-off are ill-judged. But support for the Principle of Humanity is not to be identified with support for them. Nor should opposition to them give rise to opposition to it.
This paper is from Ted Honderich's book On Political Means and Social Ends (Edinburgh University Press, 2003). It gets further support from other papers in that book, and also has several of its consequences laid out. In its original form, it was
'The Question of Well-Being and the Principle of Equality', Mind, 1981. As remarked in the introduction, the principle has  a different light thrown on it in the later book Humanity,  Terrorism, Terrorist War:  Palestine, 9/11,  Iraq, 7/7...,  published in  the U.S. under the title Right and Wrong, and Palestine, 9/11, Iraq, 7/7....


1 Systematic accounts of human goods, basic values and things which it is rational to desire for their own sake are not popular and have been attempted by few philosophers, for whatever reason. See W. K. Frankena, Ethics (Englewood Cliffs; 1973), p. 71f.; Morris Ginsberg, On the Diversity of Morals (London: 1956), chs. 7, 8; John Finnis, Natural Law and Natural Rights (Oxford: 1980), chs. 3, 4. There is a further statement of my six goods at the beginning of Ch 8. See also my After the Terror (Edinburgh University Press, 2002), Chs 1, 2.

2 John Rawls, A Theory of Justice (Oxford: 1972), p. 440f, gives a satisfactory account, and defines self-respect as the most important primary good.

3 There is an excellent discussion of forms of the assumption in Amartya Sen, Collective Choice and Social Welfare (San Francisco: 1970), ch. 7.

4 Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State and Utopia (Oxford, 1974), esp. ch. 7, section 1. 

5 D. A. Lloyd-Thomas in 'The Ones in Darkness', Philosophy, (1979), rightly notices a mistaken line of mine in favour of this, the Principle of Any Equality, and a correct one against in Three Essays on Political Violence (Blackwells, 1976), p. 41, p. 10). His main contention, that in so far as there is a connection at all between serious need and equality, it holds doubtfully between need and the Principle of Formal Equality, noticed below, seems to me mistaken. Need, as explained in this essay, is bound up with the Principle of Humanity.

6. Op. cit.

7.  Op. cit, p. 61. More light is shed in Rawls's later book Political Liberalism (Columbia University Press, 1993), on which I have found it hard to get a hold.

8. See below, Ch. 4

9. There is another argument, more basic, to the effect that it is the human nature of each of us to put our personal demands for satisfaction of our great desires ahead of the demands of others for the satisfaction of their secondary rather than great desires, and that consistency then commits us to the Principle of Humanity. See After the Terror, Ch 2. There is also the argument for the principle that consists in the strength of its kind of thing, and the weakness or worse of other kinds of thing. See Ch 6.

10. See my Punishment, The Supposed Justifications (Penguin, 1976) and also A Theory of Determinism: The Mind, Neuroscience and Life-Hopes (Oxford University Press, 1988), Ch. 10

11. For a full discussion see my `Determinism and Politics', Midwest Studies in Philosophy, 1982. [To be reprinted in EUP vol of papers on determinism & freedom].

12. See Ch 8 below, and also Terrorism for Humanity: Inquiries in Political Philosophy (Pluto, 2003/4).

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