David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Res Publica 15 (4):337-353 (2009)
In this paper, I seek to undermine G.A. <span class='Hi'>Cohen</span>’s polemical use of a metaethical claim he makes in his article, ‘Facts and Principles’, by arguing that that use requires an unsustainable equivocation between epistemic and logical grounding. I begin by distinguishing three theses that <span class='Hi'>Cohen</span> has offered during the course of his critique of Rawls and contractualism more generally, the foundationalism about grounding thesis, the justice as non-regulative thesis, and the justice as all-encompassing thesis, and briefly argue that they are analytically independent of each other. I then offer an outline of the foundationalism about grounding thesis, characterising it, as <span class='Hi'>Cohen</span> does, as a demand of logic. That thesis claims that whenever a normative principle is dependent on a fact, it is so dependent in virtue of some other principle. I then argue that although this is true as a matter of logic, it, as <span class='Hi'>Cohen</span> admits, cannot be true of actual justifications, since logic cannot tell us anything about the truth as opposed to the validity of arguments. Facts about a justification cannot then be decisive for whether or not a given argument violates the foundationalism about grounding thesis. As long as, independently of actual justifications, theorists can point to plausible logically grounding principles, as I argue contractualists can, <span class='Hi'>Cohen</span>’s thesis lacks critical bite.
|Keywords||G.A. Cohen Facts and principles Contractualism Constructivism Rawls Justification|
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References found in this work BETA
G. A. Cohen (2003). Facts and Principles. Philosophy and Public Affairs 31 (3):211–245.
G. A. Cohen (1997). Where the Action Is: On the Site of Distributive Justice. Philosophy and Public Affairs 26 (1):3–30.
Robert Nozick (1974). Anarchy, State and Utopia. Basic Books.
John Rawls (2009/2005). A Theory of Justice. In Steven M. Cahn (ed.), Exploring Ethics: An Introductory Anthology. Oxford University Press.
John Rawls (1993). Political Liberalism. Columbia University Press.
Citations of this work BETA
Laura Valentini (2012). Ideal Vs. Non-Ideal Theory: A Conceptual Map. Philosophy Compass 7 (9):654-664.
Andrew Mason (2012). What Is the Point of Justice? Utilitas 24 (04):525-547.
Edward Hall (2013). Political Realism and Fact-Sensitivity. Res Publica 19 (2):173-181.
Michele Bocchiola & Federico Zuolo (2013). On Justice and Other Values: G.A. Cohen's Political Philosophy and the Problem of Trade-Offs. Philosophical Papers 42 (1):1 - 24.
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