Arbitrariness, Justice, and Respect

Social Theory and Practice 26 (1):25-45 (2000)

Thaddeus Metz
University of Johannesburg
I examine John Rawls' objection to libertarianism that it permits economic shares to be distributed in a morally arbitrary way. This argument was dropped largely for two reasons. First, talk of "arbitrariness" has been vague and associated with implausible views about moral desert, collective assets, and noumenal selves. Second, several criticisms which Robert Nozick made 25 years ago have gone unanswered. In this essay, I reconstruct the arbitrariness argument, giving it a new, Kantian interpretation, and I show that the new version is intuitively plausible and avoids Nozick's major objections.
Keywords Applied Philosophy  Social and Political Philosophy
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ISBN(s) 0037-802X
DOI 10.5840/soctheorpract20002611
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