Equality, coercion, culture and social norms

Politics, Philosophy and Economics 2 (2):139-163 (2003)
Against the libertarian view, this essay argues that coercion aimed at bringing about a more equal distribution across persons can be morally acceptable. Informal social norms might lead toward equality (or another social justice goal) without coercion. If coercion were unnecessary, it would be morally undesirable. A consequentialist integration of social norms and principles of social justice is proposed. The proposal is provided with a preliminary defense against the non-consequentialist egalitarianism of G.A. Cohen and against liberal criticisms directed against the common ground that Cohen and the proposed consequentialist egalitarianism occupy. Key Words: distributive justice • consequentialism • Lockean rights • prioritarianism • social norms • incentives.
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DOI 10.1177/1470594X03002002001
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