Journal of Social Philosophy 46 (2):197-225 (2015)

Authors
Pablo Gilabert
Concordia University
Abstract
This paper offers an exploration of the socialist principle “From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs.” The Abilities/Needs Principle is arguably the ethical heart of socialism but, surprisingly, has received almost no attention by political philosophers. I propose an interpretation of the principle and argue that it involves appealing ideas of solidarity, fair reciprocity, recognition of individual differences, and meaningful work. The paper proceeds as follows. First, I analyze Marx’s formulation of the Abilities/Needs Principle. Second, I identify the principle’s initial plausibility, but show that it faces serious problems that cannot be addressed without developing a fresh interpretation of it. Third, I provide an interpretation of the principle that highlights demands concerning opportunities for self-realization in work, positive duties of solidarity, sensitivity to individual differences, and mechanisms of fair reciprocity. Fourth, I discuss a possible institutional implementation of the Abilities/Needs Principle. Finally, I identify some normative puzzles about the transition from capitalism to socialism, and suggest how the Abilities/Needs Principle might gain motivational traction by mobilizing the powerful idea of human dignity.
Keywords distributive justice  socialism  Marxism  social justice
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DOI 10.1111/josp.12096
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References found in this work BETA

Feasibility and Socialism.Pablo Gilabert - 2011 - Journal of Political Philosophy 19 (1):52-63.
Human Rights, Human Dignity, and Power.Pablo Gilabert - 2015 - In Rowan Cruft, Matthew Liao & Massimo Renzo (eds.), Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights. Oxford University Press. pp. 196-213.
Cohen on Socialism, Equality and Community.Pablo Gilabert - 2012 - Socialist Studies 8 (1):101-121.
Why Socialism?Albert Einstein - 1986 - In Les Levidow (ed.), Radical Science Essays. Humanities Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

Kantian Dignity and Marxian Socialism.Pablo Gilabert - 2017 - Kantian Review 22 (4):553-577.
Labor Human Rights and Human Dignity.Pablo Gilabert - 2016 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 42 (2):171-199.
Defining the Duty to Contribute: Against the Market Solution.Markus Furendal - 2017 - European Journal of Political Theory 18 (4):469-488.

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