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Likhet og rettferdighet – G. A. Cohens kritikk av John Rawls

robert.huseby@stv.uio.no

Postdoktor ved Institutt for statsvitenskap og affiliert ved CSMN, Universitetet i Oslo

I boken Rescuing Justice and Equality presenterer G. A. Cohen en todelt kritikk av John Rawls’ rettferdighetsteori. For det første, hevder Cohen, er ikke Rawls’ teori tilstrekkelig egalitær. For det andre misforstår Rawls selve begrepet rettferdighet. Artikkelen redegjør for begge innvendinger og drøfter forholdet mellom dem.

Egality and Justice

In Rescuing Justice and Equality, G. A. Cohen puts forth two major criticisms of Rawls’ influential theory of justice. First, Cohen argues, Rawls’ theory is insufficiently egalitarian. The difference principle, in particular, allows too much inequality. Secondly, Cohen holds that Rawls minsconstrues the concept of justice itself. On Cohen’s view, justice is ultimately fact-insensitive. What is just does not hang on the contingencies of actual societies and human beings. The (lower-order, fact-sensitive) principles that we actually implement in real societies are rather rules of regulation. Rules of regulation are those rules which best promotes the (higher-order fact-insensitive) ideal of justice (and other worthwhile ideals) in actual societies. Given that Rawls’ principles take into account the contingencies of societies and human beings (including self-serving individual motivation, and ideals such as stability) they are not true principles of justice, but rules of regulation. This article examines the relationship between these two lines of criticisms, and argues that the first criticism (that Rawls’ difference principle allows too much inequality) rests on assumptions (that Rawls’ principles are principles of justice) that the second line of criticism (that they are not) effectively rules out. Further, the article examines how deep the second criticism really cuts.

Keywords: Cohen, Equality, Fact-insensitive principles, Justice, Rawls
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