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

Pablo Gilabert
Concordia University
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.

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