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When Justice Demands Inequality

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In Rescuing Justice and Equality G.A. Cohen argues that justice requires an uncompromising commitment to equality. Cohen also argues, however, that justice must be sensitive to other values, including a robust commitment to individual freedom and to the welfare of the community. We ask whether a commitment to these other values means that, despite Cohen’s commitment to equality, his view requires that we make room for inequality in the name of justice? We argue that even on Cohen’s version of egalitarianism equality, freedom, and welfare are not always compatible. Justice will require trade-offs between these values. Sometimes, equality will need to be sacrificed. This is a surprising result and to show it, we use two informal impossibility proofs drawn from examples in Rescuing Justice and Equality.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Philosophy, University of Arizona, jthrashe@email.arizona.edu; 2: Department of Philosophy, University of Arizona Department of Economics, Rutgers University, Hankins@email.arizona.edu

10.1163/17455243-4681035
/content/journals/10.1163/17455243-4681035
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/content/journals/10.1163/17455243-4681035
2015-03-21
2016-12-03

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