1. The present paper is a continuation of my “Self-Ownership, World Ownership, and Equality,” which began with a description of the political philosophy of Robert Nozick. I contended in that essay that the foundational claim of Nozick's philosophy is the thesis of self-ownership, which says that each person is the morally rightful owner of his own person and powers, and, consequently, that each is free to use those powers as he wishes, provided that he does not deploy them aggressively against (...) others. To be sure, he may not harm others, and he may, if necessary, be forced not to harm them, but he should never be forced to help them, as people are in fact forced to help others, according to Nozick, by redistributive taxation. (shrink)
Some ways of defending inequality against the charge that it is unjust require premises that egalitarians find easy to dismiss—statements, for example, about the contrasting deserts and/or entitlements of unequally placed people. But a defense of inequality suggested by John Rawls and elaborated by Brian Barry has often proved irresistible even to people of egalitarian outlook. The persuasive power of this defense of inequality has helped to drive authentic egalitarianism, of an old-fashioned, uncompromising kind, out of contemporary political philosophy. The (...) present essay is part of an attempt to bring it back in. (shrink)
This essay is an attempt to piece together the elements of G. A. Cohen's thought on the theory of socialism during his long intellectual voyage from Marxism to political philosophy. It begins from his theory of the maldistribution of freedom under capitalism, moves onto his critique of libertarian property rights, to his diagnosis of the “deep inegalitarian” structure of John Rawls' theory and concludes with his rejection of the “cheap” fraternity promulgated by liberal egalitarianism. The paper's exegetical contention is that (...) Cohen's work in political philosophy is best understood in the background of lifelong commitment to a form of democratic, non-market, socialism realizing the values of freedom, equality and community, as he conceived them. The first part of the essay is therefore an attempt to retrieve core socialism-related arguments by chronologically examining the development of Cohen's views, using his books as thematic signposts. The second part brings these arguments together with an eye to reconstructing his vision of socialism. It turns out that Cohen's political philosophy offers a rich conception of objective and subjective freedom, an original understanding of justice as satisfaction of genuine need, and a substantive ideal of fraternity as justificatory community with others. If properly united, these values can suggest a full-bloodied account of the just polity, and give us a glimpse into what it means, for Cohen, to treat people as equals. (shrink)
‘No matter what the grievance, and I'm sure that the Palestinians have some legitimate grievances, nothing can justify the deliberate targeting of innocent civilians. If they were attacking our soldiers it would be a different matter.’.
The Machiavellian Moment is a classic study of the consequences for modern historical and social consciousness of the ideal of the classical republic revived by Machiavelli and other thinkers of Renaissance Italy. J.G.A. Pocock suggests that Machiavelli's prime emphasis was on the moment in which the republic confronts the problem of its own instability in time, and which he calls the "Machiavellian moment." After examining this problem in the thought of Machiavelli, Guicciardini, and Giannotti, Pocock turns to the revival of (...) republican thought in Puritan England and in Revolutionary and Federalist America. He argues that the American Revolution can be considered the last great act of civic humanism of the Renaissance. He relates the origins of modern historicism to the clash between civic, Christian, and commercial values in the thought of the eighteenth century. (shrink)
This essay is written on the following premises and argues for them. “Enlightenment” is a word or signifier, and not a single or unifiable phenomenon which it consistently signifies. There is no single or unifiable phenomenon describable as “the Enlightenment,” but it is the definite article rather than the noun which is to be avoided. In studying the intellectual history of the late seventeenth century and the eighteenth, we encounter a variety of statements made, and assumptions proposed, to which the (...) term “Enlightenment” may usefully be applied, but the meanings of the term shift as we apply it. The things are connected, but not continuous; they cannot be reduced to a single narrative; and we find ourselves using the word “Enlightenment” in a family of ways and talking about a family of phenomena, resembling and related to one another in a variety of ways that permit of various generalizations about them. We are not, however, committed to a single root meaning of the word “Enlightenment,” and we do not need to reduce the phenomena of which we treat to a single process or entity to be termed “the” Enlightenment. It is a reification that we wish to avoid, but the structure of our language is such that this is difficult, and we will find ourselves talking of “the French” or “the Scottish,” “the Newtonian” or the “the Arminian” Enlightenments, and hoping that by employing qualifying adjectives we may constantly remind ourselves that the keyword “Enlightenment” is ours to use and should not master us. (shrink)
In this stimulating work of political philosophy, acclaimed philosopher G. A. Cohen sets out to rescue the egalitarian thesis that in a society in which distributive justice prevails, peopleâes material prospects are roughly equal. Arguing against the Rawlsian version of a just society, Cohen demonstrates that distributive justice does not tolerate deep inequality. In the course of providing a deep and sophisticated critique of Rawlsâes theory of justice, Cohen demonstrates that questions of distributive justice arise not only for the state (...) but also for people in their daily lives. The right rules for the macro scale of public institutions and policies also apply, with suitable adjustments, to the micro level of individual decision-making. Cohen also charges Rawlsâes constructivism with systematically conflating the concept of justice with other concepts. Within the Rawlsian architectonic, justice is not distinguished either from other values or from optimal rules of social regulation. The elimination of those conflations brings justice closer to equality. (shrink)
This essay is an attempt to piece together the elements of G. A. Cohen’s thought on the theory of socialism during his long intellectual voyage from Marxism to political philosophy. It begins from his theory of the maldistribution of freedom under capitalism, moves onto his critique of libertarian property rights, to his diagnosis of the “deep inegalitarian” structure of John Rawls’ theory and concludes with his rejection of the “cheap” fraternity promulgated by liberal egalitarianism. The paper’s exegetical contention is that (...) Cohen’s work in political philosophy is best understood in the background of lifelong commitment to a form of democratic, non-market, socialism realizing the values of freedom, equality and community, as he conceived them. The first part of the essay is therefore an attempt to retrieve core socialism-related arguments by chronologically examining the development of Cohen’s views, using his books as thematic signposts. The second part brings these arguments together with an eye to reconstructing his vision of socialism. It turns out that Cohen’s political philosophy offers a rich conception of objective and subjective freedom, an original understanding of justice as satisfaction of genuine need, and a substantive ideal of fraternity as justificatory community with others. If properly united, these values can suggest a full-bloodied account of the just polity, and give us a glimpse into what it means, for Cohen, to treat people as equals. (shrink)
In Chapter 4 of  Grünbaum sets out to refute Einstein's philosophy of physical geometry. The latter's theory is seen as lying within the tradition of "anti-empiricist conventionalism" of Duhem and Quine as opposed to the "qualified empiricism" of Poincaré, Carnap and Reichenbach. Consequently Grünbaum sets the stage for his critique of Einstein by discussing certain of the views of these other thinkers. But in these preliminary discussions the various theses are confused and misrepresented in such a way as to (...) make it almost impossible to evaluate Grünbaum's final treatment of Einstein's thesis. For this reason I will deal only with those parts of this chapter in which the roots of Grünbaum's confusion are to be found. This will involve analyses of two theories which are not clearly distinguished by Grünbaum. The first is Duhem's denial of the "crucial experiment" in physics; the second is Quine's version of "pragmatism.". (shrink)
This paper argues that Cohen’s early work on Marxism, and his work in political philosophy, entails commitment to a distributive paradigm, that is, the view that exploitation obtains only if distributive injustice obtains. Cohen’s early espousal of that paradigm is explicitly reaffirmed in his defence of luck egalitarianism. The paper argues that Cohen’s distributive paradigm is neither the only defensible theory of exploitation, nor indeed the most plausible. It also shows that Cohen himself had doubts about the distributive paradigm, and (...) in fact came to reject it towards the end of his life. (shrink)
Philosophy written in English is overwhelmingly analytic philosophy, and the techniques and predilections of analytic philosophy are not only unhistorical but anti-historical, and hostile to textual commentary. Analytic usually aspires to a very high degree of clarity and precision of formulation and argument, and it often seeks to be informed by, and consistent with, current natural science. In an earlier era, analytic philosophy aimed at agreement with ordinary linguistic intuitions or common sense beliefs, or both. All of these aspects of (...) the subject sit uneasily with the use of historical texts for philosophical illumination. In this book, ten distinguished philosophers explore the tensions between, and the possibilities of reconciling, analytic philosophy and history of philosophy. Contributors: M. R. Ayers, John Cottingham, Daniel Garber, Gary Hatfield, Anthony Kenny, Steven Nadler, G. A. J. Rogers, Tom Sorell, Catherine Wilson, Yves Charles Zarka. (shrink)
The first part is an account of the Trinity Controversy, centering on the question of the identity of persons, and of the respects in which points made in the controversy, in particular the circularity objection, may have influenced Locke’s formulation of his theory. The second part argues that Locke is attempting to come to grips with the circularity problem, but that his solution is ultimately a failure. The argument of II, xxvii, 13 is analyzed in detail and the form of (...) Locke’s theory of relative identity is discussed. Fundamental difficulties are found to reside in his theories of representation and agency. (shrink)
This is the first in a series of occasional volumes of original papers on predefined themes. The Mind Association will nominate an editor or editors for each collection, and may join with other organizations in the promotion of conferences or other scholarly activities in connection with each volume. This collection, published to coincide with the 400th anniversary of Thomas Hobbes's birth, focuses on central themes in his life and work. Including essays by David Gauthier, Noel Malcolm, Arrigo Pacchi, David Raphael, (...) Tom Sorrell, Francois Tricaud, and Richard Tuck, the book testifies to Hobbes's enduring importance as a major philosopher and helps to unravel those aspects of his intellectual biography that are relevant to a proper appreciation of his philosophy. (shrink)
Abstract G.A. Cohen has produced an influential criticism of libertarian?ism that posits joint ownership of everything in the world other than labor, with each joint owner having a veto right over any potential use of the world. According to Cohen, in that world rationality would require that wealth be divided equally, with no differential accorded to talent, ability, or effort. A closer examination shows that Cohen's argument rests on two central errors of reasoning and does not support his egalitarian conclusions, (...) even granting his assumption of joint ownership. That assumption was rejected by Locke, Pufendorf and other writers on property for reasons that Cohen does not rebut. (shrink)
In his Tanner Lecture of 1979 called ‘Equality of What?’ Amartya Sen asked what metric egalitarians should use to establish the extent to which their ideal is realized in a given society. What aspect of a person’s condition should count in a fundamental way for egalitarians, and not merely as cause of or evidence of or proxy for what they regard as fundamental?
In this book G. A. Cohen examines the libertarian principle of self-ownership, which says that each person belongs to himself and therefore owes no service or product to anyone else. This principle is used to defend capitalist inequality, which is said to reflect each person's freedom to do as as he wishes with himself. The author argues that self-ownership cannot deliver the freedom it promises to secure, thereby undermining the idea that lovers of freedom should embrace capitalism and the inequality (...) that comes with it. He goes on to show that the standard Marxist condemnation of exploitation implies an endorsement of self-ownership, since, in the Marxist conception, the employer steals from the worker what should belong to her, because she produced it. Thereby a deeply inegalitarian notion has penetrated what is in aspiration an egalitarian theory. Purging that notion from socialist thought, he argues, enables construction of a more consistent egalitarianism. (shrink)
Three hundred years after his major publications, John Locke remains one of the most potent philosophical influences in the world today. His epistemology has become embedded in our everyday presumptions about the world, and his political theory lies at the heart of the liberal democratic state. This collection by a distinguished international group of scholars looks both at core areas of Locke's philosophy and political theory and at areas not usually discussed--the links between Locke's philosophy and his religious and political (...) thought, the effects and implications of Locke's works in the world at the time, and the manifestation of those effects in the present day. Drawing on material not available until recently--on both the modern texts of the Clarendon Edition of Locke's works and on unpublished manuscripts, this book is the first original collection of Locke's scholarship in some years. (shrink)
Classical temples in ancient Greece show two deterministic illusionistic principles of architecture, which govern their functional design: geometric proportionalism and a set of illusion-strengthening rules in the proportionalism's stochastic margin. Animal morphology, in its mechanistic-deductive revival, applies just one architectural principle, which is not always satisfactory. Whether a Greek Classical situation occurs in the architecture of living structure is to be investigated by extreme testing with deductive methods.Three deductive methods for explanation of living structure in animal morphology are proposed: the (...) parts, the compromise, and the transformation deduction. The methods are based upon the systems concept for an organism, the flow chart for a functionalistic picture, and the network chart for a structuralistic picture, whereas the optimal design serves as the architectural principle for living structure. These methods show clearly the high explanatory power of deductive methods in morphology, but they also make one open end most explicit: neutral issues do exist. (shrink)
The central problem burdening common sense pluralism, as well as motivating the various Ockhamist reactions, is what has come to be called the problem of coincidence. Everyday thought and speech refer both to seals and to sealing wax, to kings and to human beings or bodies. Where the first coincides completely in space with the second, is there one object in that place, or two? The initial response of common sense is perhaps to dismiss the latter out of hand. The (...) king is a human, after all, and the seal a quantity of sealing wax. But once we note that the conditions for the persistence in time of such objects may differ, or that they differ in essential properties, the one-object option seems less appealing. If both exist, as pluralism asserts, and the seal can be destroyed without the wax ceasing to exist, then perhaps the best defense of common sense is to recognize that the seal and the sealing wax are two. (shrink)
G. A. Cohen was one of the most gifted, influential, and progressive voices in contemporary political philosophy. At the time of his death in 2009, he had plans to bring together a number of his most significant papers. This is the first of three volumes to realize those plans. Drawing on three decades of work, it contains previously uncollected articles that have shaped many of the central debates in political philosophy, as well as papers published here for the first time. (...) In these pieces, Cohen asks what egalitarians have most reason to equalize, he considers the relationship between freedom and property, and he reflects upon ideal theory and political practice. Included here are classic essays such as "Equality of What?" and "Capitalism, Freedom, and the Proletariat," along with more recent contributions such as "Fairness and Legitimacy in Justice," "Freedom and Money," and the previously unpublished "How to Do Political Philosophy." On ample display throughout are the clarity, rigor, conviction, and wit for which Cohen was renowned. Together, these essays demonstrate how his work provides a powerful account of liberty and equality to the left of Ronald Dworkin, John Rawls, Amartya Sen, and Isaiah Berlin. (shrink)
The article is an examination of locke's theory of personal identity in terms of his underlying commitment to a substance/property metaphysics. it is argued that the resources for his solution must be drawn from his theory of properties (modes), which are fully instantiated properties (or 'aspects'). locke raises the important problem of the identity of modes through time. his solution is outlined and criticized. the failure of his theory is diagnosed in terms of the intractability of the problem given his (...) underlying metaphysics. (shrink)
An egalitarian interpretation and defence of Rawls's principles of justice and their institutional and policy implications in response to G. A. Cohen's criticisms of Rawls's alleged justification of unequalizing incentives. Keywords Applied Philosophy Social and Political Philosophy Rawls G.A. Cohen difference priciple incentives justice property-owning democracy.
An egalitarian interpretation and defence of Rawls's principles of justice and their institutional and policy implications in response to G. A. Cohen's criticisms of Rawls's alleged justification of unequalizing incentives.
Seventeenth-century philosophy scholars come together in this volume to address the Insiders--Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, and Hobbes--and Outsiders--Pierre Gassendi, Kenelm Digby, Theophilus Gale, Ralph Cudworth and Nicholas Malebranche--of the philosocial canon, and the ways in which reputations are created and confirmed. In their own day, these ten figures were all considered to be thinkers of substantial repute, and it took some time for the Insiders to come to be regarded as major and original philosophers. Today these Insiders all feature in (...) the syllabi of most history of philosophy courses taught in western universities, and the papers in this collection, contrasting the stories of their receptions with those of the Outsiders, give an insight into the history of philosophy which is generally overlooked. (shrink)
What is science? How is scientific knowledge affected by the society that produces it? Does scientific knowledge directly correspond to reality? Can we draw a line between science and pseudo-science? Will it ever be possible for computers to undertake scientific investigation independently? Is there such a thing as feminist science? In this book the author addresses questions such as these using a technique of 'cognitive play', which creates and explores new links between the ideas and results of contemporary history, philosophy, (...) and sociology of science. New ideas and approaches are applied to a wide range of case studies, many of them from controversial and contested science. This book will be of interest to historians and sociologists of science, to anyone interested in science studies, and to educated general readers with an interest in the history, philosophy, and social context of science. (shrink)
G.A. Cohen’s book brings together and elaborates on articles that he has written on selfownership, on Marx’s theory of exploitation, and on the future of socialism. Although seven of the eleven chapters have been previously published (1977-1992), this is not merely a collection of articles. There is a superb introduction that gives an overview of how the chapters fit together and of their historical relation to each other. Most chapters have a new introduction and often a postscript or addendum that (...) connect them with other chapters. And the four new chapters (on justice and market transactions, exploitation in Marx, the concept of self-ownership, and the plausibility of the thesis of self-ownership) are important contributions that round out and bring closure to many of the central issues. As always with Cohen, the writing is crystal clear, and full of compelling examples, deep insights, and powerful arguments. Cohen has long been recognized as one of the most important exponents of analytic Marxism. His innovative, rigorous, and exciting interpretations of Marx’s theories of history and of exploitation have had a major impact on Marxist scholarship. Starting in the mid-1970s he has increasingly turned his attention to normative political philosophy. As Cohen describes it, he was awakened from his “dogmatic socialist slumbers” by Nozick’s famous Wilt Chamberlain example in which people starting from a position of equality (or other favored patterned distribution) freely choose to pay to watch Wilt Chamberlain play, and the net result is inequality (or other unfavored pattern). During the subsequent twenty years, political 1 philosophy has benefited from his thinking about the nature and plausibility of the thesis of selfownership, and about the scope and demands of equality. In what follows I will focus solely on the material dealing with self-ownership, but first I shall mention some of the interesting material on Marxism and socialism that I will be ignoring. First, at various points Cohen discusses how something like a principle of self-ownership is latent in the standard Marxist condemnation of capitalist exploitation (e.g., the capitalist steals labor time from the laborer).. (shrink)
Many people, including many egalitarian political philosophers, professa belief in equality while enjoying high incomes of which they devotevery little to egalitarian purposes. The article critically examinesways of resolving the putative inconsistency in the stance of thesepeople, in particular, that favouring an egalitarian society has noimplications for behaviour in an unequal one; that what''s bad aboutinequality is a social division that philanthropy cannot reduce; thatprivate action cannot ensure that others have good lives; that privateaction can only achieve a ``drop in (...) the ocean''''; that private effortis not called for, since justice is a matter for the state to enforce;that private effort cannot remove the fundamental injustice, whichis inequality of power; and that private effort involves an unreasonablylarge psychological burden. (shrink)
In this paper I will deal with two questions. One is the relatively specific issue of whether mandatory retirement is unjust discrimination against the aged. The position taken is that it is not. But in the development of this argument a principle is advanced which appears to have the consequence that nothing, or at least very few of the practices that we are intuitively inclined to regard as unfair discrimination, are discriminatory with respect to age.