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 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)
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)
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)
‘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.’.
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)
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)
The JSTOR Archive is a trusted digital repository providing for long-term preservation and access to leading academic journals and scholarly literature from around the world. The Archive is supported by libraries, scholarly societies, publishers, and foundations. It is an initiative of JSTOR, a not-for-profit organization with a mission to help the scholarly community take advantage of advances in technology. For more information regarding JSTOR, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
This study discusses how perceptions of ethics are formed by certified public accountants (CPAs). Theologians are used as a point of comparison. When considering CPA ethical dilemmas, both subject groups in this research project viewed confidentiality and independence as more important than recipient of responsibility and seriousness of breach. Neither group, however, was insensitive to any of the factors presented for its consideration. CPA reactions to ethical dilemmas were governed primarily by provisions of the CPA ethics code; conformity to that (...) code may well be evidence of higher stage moral reasoning. (shrink)
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)
The relationship between John Locke and Isaac Newton, his co-founder of, in the apt phrase of one recent writer, ‘the Moderate Enlightenment’ of the eighteenth century, has many dimensions. There is their friendship, which began only after each had written his major work, and which had its stormy interlude. There is the difficult question of their mutual impact. In what ways did each draw intellectually on the other? That there was some debt of each to the other is almost certain, (...) but its exact extent is problematic. Questions may be asked over a whole range of intellectual issues, but not always answered. Thus their theology, which was in many respects close, and which forms the bulk of their surviving correspondence, may yet reveal mutual influence. There is the question of their political views, where both were firmly Whig. But it is upon their philosophy, and certain aspects of their philosophy in particular, that this paper will concentrate. My main theme is the nature of their empiricism, and my main contention is that between them they produced a powerful and comprehensive philosophy. (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)
ABSTRACTThis article offers a reinterpretation of the origins and character of the so-called ‘Cambridge School’ in the history of political thought by reconstructing the intellectual background to J.G.A. Pocock's 1962 essay ‘The History of Political Thought: A Methodological Enquiry’, typically regarded as the first statement of a ‘Cambridge’ approach. I argue that neither linguistic philosophy nor the celebrated work of Peter Laslett exerted a major influence on Pocock's work between 1948 and 1962. Instead, I emphasise the importance of Pocock's interest (...) in the history of historiography and of his doctoral supervisor, Herbert Butterfield. By placing Pocock's intellectual development in these contexts, I suggest, the autonomy of diverse versions of the ‘Cambridge’ approach can more readily be perceived. (shrink)
The logical status of abstraction principles, and especially Hume’s Principle, has been long debated, but the best currently availeble tool for explicating a notion’s logical character—permutation invariance—has not received a lot of attention in this debate. This paper aims to fill this gap. After characterizing abstraction principles as particular mappings from the subsets of a domain into that domain and exploring some of their properties, the paper introduces several distinct notions of permutation invariance for such principles, assessing the philosophical significance (...) of each. (shrink)
ABSTRACT:Although the literature on multi-stakeholder initiatives for sustainability has grown in recent years, it is scattered across several academic fields, making it hard to ascertain how individual disciplines, such as business ethics, can further contribute to the debate. Based on an extensive review of the literature on certification and principle-based MSIs for sustainability, we show that the scholarly debate rests on three broad themes : theinputinto creating and governing MSIs; theinstitutionalizationof MSIs; and theimpactthat relevant initiatives create. While our discussion reveals (...) the theoretical underpinnings of the 3Is, it also shows that a number of research challenges related to business ethics remain unaddressed. We unpack these challenges and suggest how scholars can utilize theoretical insights in business ethics to push the boundaries of the field. Finally, we also discuss what business ethics research can gain from theory development in the MSI field. (shrink)
Robert Nozick's Anarchy, State and Utopia is in large measure an ingenious elaboration of an argument for capitalism adumbrated by Plekhanov. The capitalism Nozick advocates is more pure than the one we know today. It lacks taxation for social welfare, and it permits degrees of inequality far greater than most apologists for contemporary bourgeois society would countenance. The present paper paper is only indirectly a critique of Nozick's defense of capitalism. Its immediate aim is to refute Nozick's major argument against (...) a rival of capitalism, socialism. The refutation vindicates socialism against that argument, but no one opposed to socialism on other grounds should expect to be converted by this paper. (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)
G. A. Cohen conceptualizes socialism as luck egalitarianism constrained by a community principle. The latter mitigates certain inequalities to achieve a shared common life. This article explores the plausibility of the community constraint on inequality in light of two related problems. First, if it is voluntary, it fails as a response to “the abandonment objection” to luck egalitarianism, as it would not guarantee imprudent people sufficient resources to avoid deprivation and to function as equal citizens in a democratic society. Contra (...) Cohenite socialism, this appears unjust. Second, if it is instead enforced, coercive equalization beyond sufficiency-constrained luck egalitarianism, which is possibly necessary to achieve a shared common life, seems to require unjustified restrictions on liberty. I therefore argue that the constraint is most plausibly specified as requiring enforcement of sufficiency and only voluntary equalization thereafter. I also note, skeptically, why this constraint might be morally preferable to a purely sufficientarian alternative. (shrink)