The Journal of Ethics 14 (3-4):231-253 (2010)

G. A. Cohen incisively argued that our judgments of social justice should fit our convictions about how to interact with others in our personal lives. Ironically, the ordinary morality of cooperation invoked in his last book undermines his favored principle of equality, and supports John Rawls' reliance on a relevantly impartial choice promoting appropriate fundamental interests as a basis for distributive standards. His further objections to Rawls' account of distributive justice neglect the role of social relations in establishing the proper scope of that impartiality and the moral force of Rawls' taxonomy of non-ideal societies. In contrast, the powerful evocation of goods of community at the end of Cohen's last book points to a genuine inadequacy. Conscientious fellow-citizens must take account of the impact of their political choices on options for sharing and caring. In finding a proper balance between these goods and competing individualist concerns, the original position is of too little use to sustain Rawls' assessment of his conception of justice as complete. In the face of our strong moral convictions about how to live together, both Cohen's luck egalitarianism and Rawls' barriers between aspirations to community and political choice must give way
Keywords G. A. Cohen  Community  Egalitarianism  Equality  Justice  John Rawls
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10892-010-9079-6
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 62,481
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Political Liberalism.John Rawls - 1993 - Columbia University Press.
Justice as Fairness: A Restatement.John Rawls (ed.) - 2001 - Harvard University Press.
Rescuing Justice and Equality.G. A. Cohen (ed.) - 2008 - Harvard University Press.
Why Not Socialism?Gerald Allan Cohen - 2009 - Princeton University Press.

View all 10 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Justice Within the Limits of Human Nature Alone.Neera K. Badhwar - 2016 - Social Philosophy and Policy 33 (1-2):193-213.

View all 6 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Division of Moral Labour and the Basic Structure Restriction.Thomas Porter - 2009 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 8 (2):173-199.
Life is Not a Camping Trip - on the Desirability of Cohenite Socialism.Miriam Ronzoni - 2012 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 11 (2):171-185.
Cohen’s Rescue.Jan Narveson - 2010 - The Journal of Ethics 14 (3-4):263-334.
Justice is Not Equality.Richard J. Arneson - 2008 - Ratio 21 (4):371-391.
Rawls and Natural Aristocracy.Matthew Clayton - 2001 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy 1 (3):239-259.
Political Egalitarianism.Joseph Heath - 2008 - Social Theory and Practice 34 (4):485-516.


Added to PP index

Total views
63 ( #168,160 of 2,446,287 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #310,412 of 2,446,287 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes