G. A. Cohen’s Vision of Socialism

The Journal of Ethics 14 (3-4):185-216 (2010)

Authors
Nicholas Vrousalis
Cambridge University
Abstract
This essay is an attempt to piece together the elements of G. A. Cohen's thought on the theory of socialism during his long intellectual voyage from Marxism to political philosophy. It begins from his theory of the maldistribution of freedom under capitalism, moves onto his critique of libertarian property rights, to his diagnosis of the “deep inegalitarian” structure of John Rawls' theory and concludes with his rejection of the “cheap” fraternity promulgated by liberal egalitarianism. The paper's exegetical contention is that Cohen's work in political philosophy is best understood in the background of lifelong commitment to a form of democratic, non-market, socialism realizing the values of freedom, equality and community, as he conceived them. The first part of the essay is therefore an attempt to retrieve core socialism-related arguments by chronologically examining the development of Cohen's views, using his books as thematic signposts. The second part brings these arguments together with an eye to reconstructing his vision of socialism. It turns out that Cohen's political philosophy offers a rich conception of objective and subjective freedom, an original understanding of justice as satisfaction of genuine need, and a substantive ideal of fraternity as justificatory community with others. If properly united, these values can suggest a full-bloodied account of the just polity, and give us a glimpse into what it means, for Cohen, to treat people as equals.
Keywords G. A. Cohen  Historical materialism  Luck egalitarianism  Marxism  Second-personal reasons  Socialism
Categories (categorize this paper)
ISBN(s)
DOI 10.1007/s10892-010-9084-9
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 48,902
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

Rescuing Justice and Equality.G. A. Cohen (ed.) - 2008 - Harvard University Press.
Why Not Socialism?G. A. Cohen - 2009 - Princeton University Press.
If You're an Egalitarian, How Come You're so Rich.G. A. Cohen - 2000 - The Journal of Ethics 4 (1-2):1-26.

View all 28 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

The Inegalitarian Ethos: Incentives, Respect, and Self-Respect.E. McTernan - 2013 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 12 (1):93-111.
G. A. Cohen on Exploitation.Nicholas Vrousalis - 2014 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 13 (2):151-164.
Incentives, Offers, and Community.Harrison P. Frye - 2017 - Economics and Philosophy 33 (3):367-390.
The Basic Structure of the Institutional Imagination.James Gledhill - 2014 - Journal of Social Philosophy 45 (2):270-290.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Self-Ownership, Freedom, and Autonomy.George G. Brenkert - 1998 - The Journal of Ethics 2 (1):27-55.
Feasibility and Socialism.Pablo Gilabert - 2011 - Journal of Political Philosophy 19 (1):52-63.
Jerry Cohen’s Why Not Socialism? Some Thoughts.John E. Roemer - 2010 - The Journal of Ethics 14 (3-4):255-262.
Why Not Socialism? [REVIEW]Andy Lamey - 2010 - The Literary Review of Canada (June).
Life is Not a Camping Trip - on the Desirability of Cohenite Socialism.M. Ronzoni - 2012 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 11 (2):171-185.
A Moral Case for Socialism.Kai Nielsen - 1989 - Critical Review 3 (3-4):542-553.
Cohen on Socialism, Equality and Community.Pablo Gilabert - 2012 - Socialist Studies 8 (1):101-121.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2010-07-26

Total views
190 ( #43,537 of 2,309,727 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
13 ( #54,415 of 2,309,727 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature