Life is not a camping trip - on the desirability of Cohenite socialism

Politics, Philosophy and Economics 11 (2):171-185 (2012)
Abstract
In Why Not Socialism?, GA Cohen defines socialism as the combined application of two moral principles: the egalitarian principle and the principle of community. The desirability of a social order organized around these two principles is illustrated by the ‘camping trip’ example. After describing the fundamental features of the camping trip scenario at reasonable length, Cohen argues that the desirability of such a social model is nearly self-explanatory, concluding therefore that the most significant challenges to socialism lie in its feasibility. This article argues that the desirability of the camping trip model as an appropriate ideal for society is less obvious than Cohen acknowledges. To argue my point, I shall compare the camping trip with another social practice that is equally small sized and characterized by strong emotional ties among its members, but in which the conditions of what I shall call ‘goal-monism’ and discontinuity in time do not hold, namely, the family
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