In Defence of Pure Pluralism: Two Readings of Walzer's Spheres of Justice

Journal of Political Philosophy 8 (3):343-362 (2000)
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In this article I will argue that there are two theories of distributive justice hidden in Walzer's Spheres of Justice. The first one emphasises the separation of distributive spheres. It tries to formulate distributive criteria by sticking faithfully to sphere‐specificity. I shall refer to this theory as ‘pure pluralism’. The second theory downplays the separation of spheres and emphasises ‘across spheres’ or ‘between spheres’ criteria instead. I shall call this theory ‘mitigated pluralism’. Mitigated pluralism has become popular among Walzer's friendly critics who apparently do not want to charge him with a distributive theory as clear and rigid as pure pluralism. Although I consider myself another friendly critic, I shall argue in favour of pure pluralism.



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