RESCUING JUSTICE AND EQUALITY

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Harvard University Press, 2008 - Philosophy - 430 pages
3 Reviews

In this stimulating work of political philosophy, acclaimed philosopher G. A. Cohen sets out to rescue the egalitarian thesis that in a society in which distributive justice prevails, people‚e(tm)s material prospects are roughly equal. Arguing against the Rawlsian version of a just society, Cohen demonstrates that distributive justice does not tolerate deep inequality.

In the course of providing a deep and sophisticated critique of Rawls‚e(tm)s theory of justice, Cohen demonstrates that questions of distributive justice arise not only for the state but also for people in their daily lives. The right rules for the macro scale of public institutions and policies also apply, with suitable adjustments, to the micro level of individual decision-making.

Cohen also charges Rawls‚e(tm)s constructivism with systematically conflating the concept of justice with other concepts. Within the Rawlsian architectonic, justice is not distinguished either from other values or from optimal rules of social regulation. The elimination of those conflations brings justice closer to equality.

  

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Justice is not merely abstract principles, it must be 'lived'. In Rawls' case, if you take the difference principle seriously, how is it an added incentive to work more for more money if it results in a less equal society? And furthermore, why is the resulting inequality anyway 'just' rather than, say, sensible? Cohen deals with these questions in his usual lucid, penetrating and often funny style. R.I.P. 

Review: Rescuing Justice and Equality

User Review  - May - Goodreads

It's an interesting enough book and what Cohen is saying is really nuanced and a huge improvement on a Pareto or maximum utility sort of justice. However, if you have not read Rawls thoroughly, I ... Read full review

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Contents

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About the author (2008)

G. A. Cohen was Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory and Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford University.

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