What Is the Point of Justice?

Utilitas 24 (04):525-547 (2012)
Conflicting answers to the question of what principles of justice are for may generate very different ways of theorizing about justice. Indeed divergent answers to it are at the heart of G. A. Cohen's disagreement with John Rawls. Cohen thinks that the roots of this disagreement lie in the constructivist method that Rawls employs, which mistakenly treats the principles that emerge from a procedure that involves factual assumptions as ultimate principles of justice. But I argue that even if Rawls were to abandon his constructivism, and to accept Cohen's argument that ultimate principles of justice are not grounded directly in any facts, their divergent views concerning the proper role of principles of justice would lead them to different conclusions. I contend that even if ultimate principles of justice are not directly grounded in any facts, the role that principles of justice are needed to play may mean that their justification depends upon facts about what is feasible and facts about what is burdensome to people. Contrary to what Cohen maintains, being dependent on the facts in this manner does not preclude a principle from being ultimate; nor do principles which have this sort of dependence on the facts necessarily combine justice with other values in a way that must lead to conflation
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1017/S0953820812000234
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 23,651
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
John Rawls (1999). The Law of Peoples. Harvard University Press.
John Rawls (1993). Political Liberalism. Columbia University Press.
John Rawls (2009). A Theory of Justice. In Steven M. Cahn (ed.), Philosophy and Rhetoric. Oxford University Press 133-135.

View all 28 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Sem de Maagt (2014). In Defence of Fact-Dependency. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 44 (3-4):443-462.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

54 ( #89,211 of 1,902,709 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

14 ( #61,830 of 1,902,709 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.