G. A. Cohen on the Rawlsian Doctrine of the Basic Structure as Subject

Social Philosophy Today 26:153-163 (2010)
In his recent book Rescuing Justice and Equality (Harvard University Press, 2008), G. A. Cohen returns to the defense of his critique of the Rawlsian doctrine of the “basic structure as subject.” This doctrine provides the centerpiece of what Rawls has to say about the domain of distributive justice—that is, about the sorts of things judgments of distributive justice are about and about the ways in which these judgments are interconnected. From the extensiveness of Cohen’s critique of this doctrine, it seems clear that he wants to take a very different view of the boundaries and contours of this domain. However, despite the characteristic clarity and precision with which he describes the Rawlsian doctrine and despite the trenchancy of his criticisms, it is still a matter of some difficulty determining the respects in which he and Rawls are actually in disagreement
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