Following Rawls' seminal work, political philosophers and economists have recently shown great interest in different conceptions of equity or justice. Apart from Rawls' own principles, these have included utilitarianism, need and desert, horizontal and vertical equity and envy-free distributions. None of these conceptions, however, seem to command general consensus; and this paper is an attempt to find out why. The conclusion is reached that they all fail because they do not take account of an essential element of equity: its relationship to the existence or otherwise of choice. An alternative conception is offered, based explicitly on that relationship; it is argued that this conception comes closer to capturing the essence of what is generally meant by the term equity than any of the others considered
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