What makes a basic structure just?

Res Publica 14 (3):203-218 (2008)
In his multi-faceted attack on Rawls’s account of justice, G.A. Cohen has argued that the notion of basic structure is necessarily insensitive to the importance of informal social norms to social justice. The paper argues that the most plausible account of the basic structure is not blind to informal social norms in any meaningful sense. Whereas informal, non-legally coercive institutions are not part of the basic structure as such, their careful consideration is necessary for the assessment of whether the basic structure itself is indeed just. This claim is based on an account of what it means for normative principle to apply to institutions, which I expound in detail throughout the paper. Principles apply to institutions, I argue, not in that they restrain their conduct, but in that they indicate which social conditions they should bring about.
Keywords John Rawls  G.A. Cohen  Social justice  Social norms  Institutional theories of justice
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11158-008-9056-0
 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: 15,831
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 (1993). Political Liberalism. Columbia University Press.
John Rawls (1999). The Law of Peoples. Harvard University Press.
John Rawls (2009/2005). A Theory of Justice. In Steven M. Cahn (ed.), Philosophy and Rhetoric. Oxford University Press 133-135.

View all 14 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

84 ( #34,426 of 1,724,748 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

8 ( #81,198 of 1,724,748 )

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.