Authors
Blain Neufeld
University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
Abstract
The first principle of Rawls’s conception of justice secures a set of ‘basic liberties’ equally for all citizens within the constitutional structure of society. The ‘worth’ of citizens’ liberties, however, may vary depending upon their wealth. Against Rawls, Cohen contends that an absence of money often can directly constrain citizens’ freedom and not simply its worth. This is because money often can remove legally enforced constraints on what citizens can do. Cohen’s argument – if modified to apply to citizens’ ‘moral powers’ rather than ‘negative liberty’ – threatens a core feature of Rawls’s conception of justice, as it is unclear why the parties within the ‘original position’ would endorse the lexical priority of the first principle over the ‘difference principle’ if both principles similarly shape citizens’ freedom. I concede Cohen’s point regarding the relation between freedom and money but argue that it is not fatal to Rawls’s conception of justice if the ‘basic needs principle’ is understood to enjoy lexical priority over the first principle and is modified to include a right to adequate discretionary time. Nonetheless, Cohen’s argument helpfully highlights the infelicitous nature of Rawls’s terminology with respect to liberty: the basic needs principle, the first principle and the difference principle all should be understood as shaping citizens’ freedom to exercise their moral powers.
Keywords citizens  Gerald Allen Cohen  equality  freedom  liberalism  liberty  justice  John Rawls  egalitarianism
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DOI 10.1177/1470594X16651058
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References found in this work BETA

Rescuing Justice and Equality.G. A. Cohen (ed.) - 2008 - Harvard University Press.
Justice as Fairness: A Restatement.John Rawls (ed.) - 2001 - Harvard University Press.
Political Liberalism.J. Rawls - 1995 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 57 (3):596-598.
Justice as Fairness: A Restatement.C. L. Ten - 2003 - Mind 112 (447):563-566.
Self-Ownership, Freedom, and Equality.G. A. Cohen - 1995 - Cambridge University Press.

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