Social Philosophy and Policy 28 (2):232-261 (2011)

Richard J. Arneson
University of California, San Diego
One way to think about capitalism-versus-socialism is to examine the extent to which capitalist economic institutions are compatible with the fulfillment of socialist ideals. The late G. A. Cohen has urged that the two are strongly incompatible. He imagines how it would make sense for friends to organize a camping trip, distills the socialist moral principles that he sees fulfilled in the camping trip model, and observes that these principles conflict with a capitalist organization of the economy. He adds that these principles are ethically attractive, so if it is feasible to organize the economy on the camping trip model, we ought to do so. This essay argues to the contrary that for all that has been said, capitalist economic arrangements might be in the set of institutional arrangements that overall would best fulfill the camping trip principles, and anyway, the principles themselves ought to be rejected, so the question whether or not a capitalist set-up might satisfy these principles should not interest us. The grounds for rejecting the camping trip principles support a form of welfarist consequentialism that denies that equality of distribution of any sort is per se ethically desirable and also denies that liberal freedoms to live as one chooses are per se morally desirable. Equality and freedom should rather be regarded as in the light of possible means to advancing good for people, fairly distributed.
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DOI 10.1017/S0265052510000282
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References found in this work BETA

Rescuing Justice and Equality.G. Cohen (ed.) - 2008 - Harvard University Press.
What is the Point of Equality.Elizabeth Anderson - 1999 - Ethics 109 (2):287-337.
Anarchy, State, and Utopia.Robert Nozick - 1974 - Philosophy 52 (199):102-105.

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Citations of this work BETA

Luck egalitarianism without moral tyranny.Jesse Spafford - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-25.
Cohen’s Community: Beyond the Liberal State?Louis-Philippe Hodgson - 2018 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 17 (1):23-50.

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