Academic journal article The Review of Metaphysics

Journal of Philosophy: Vol. 101, No. 7, July 2004

Academic journal article The Review of Metaphysics

Journal of Philosophy: Vol. 101, No. 7, July 2004

Article excerpt

Justice and Personal Pursuits, KOK-CHORTAN

The institutional approach to justice offers a division of labor that provides a way of balancing the demands of egalitarian justice and personal pursuits. G.A. Cohen rejects the institutional approach on the ground that its limited focus on institutions represents an "evasion" of the burdens of justice. Taking Rawls as his main target, Cohen argues that Rawls's difference principle, understood as a principle limited to the basic structure of society, allows for excessive inequalities due to the selfish acquisitiveness of the talented. Thus justice, Cohen argues, should be concerned not just with the rules of institutions but with personal choices and conduct within these rules. However, Rawls's institutional approach need not result in inequalities as excessive as Cohen thinks. Moreover, not only does Cohen's rejection of the institutional approach effectively deny meaningful space for personal pursuits, there is no reason on grounds of egalitarian justice to go beyond the institutional approach. …

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