Pluralism, Justice, and Equality

Pluralism, Justice, and Equality

Pluralism, Justice, and Equality

Pluralism, Justice, and Equality

Synopsis

The essays in this book by a group of leading political theorists assess and develop the central ideas of Michael Walzer's path-breaking Spheres of Justice. Is social justice a radically plural notion, with its principles determined by the different social goods that men and women allocate to one another? Is it possible to prevent the unequal distribution of money and power from distorting the allocation of other goods? If different goods are distributed by different mechanisms, what (if any) kind of social equality is possible? Are there universal principles of jusstice which apply regardless of context? These and other related questions are pursued in depth by the contributors. The book concludes with an important new essay by Walzer in which he reflects on the positions taken in his original book in the light of the critical appraisals presented here.

Excerpt

The idea for this book emerged from some discussions between the two editors about issues arising fromMichael Walzer book Spheres of Justice, first published in 1983. A decade later the book was still being widely debated, and a fairly substantial body of critical literature had emerged concerning its central theses, the plurality of spheres of justice and the idea of complex equality. We thought it might be valuable to assemble a series of appraisals by political theorists and philosophers, including some who were quite sceptical about the general programme of Spheres of Justice, and others who were more sympathetic, but who might wish to modify or extend some of its arguments.David Miller would begin by circulating a general overview of the book's arguments, and Michael Walzer would conclude by defending, developing, or modifying (as the case might be) the ideas he had expressed there in the light of the appraisals being offered.

This explains the plan of the book. The contributors were chosen by the two editors together, butDavid Miller alone was responsible for commenting on draft versions of the papers. We should like to record our thanks to Trude Hickey of Nuffield College for her help in co-ordinating the project.

D.M. M.W.

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