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Unpublished Paper
Fairness and the Distribution of Primary Goods
ExpressO (2008)
  • Nathan W. Dean, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

I consider whether any one of the schemes of distributive justice envisioned by John Rawls, Robert Nozick, or G.A. Cohen is truly fair. By means of a close and critical reading of their work on distributive justice, I conclude that their schemes of distributive justice in some instances fail to correct for elements of unfairness and at other times introduce unfairness in the furtherance of other largely unacknowledged ends. More specifically, I (1) describe the ways in which Rawls, Nozick, and Cohen fail to show us what a fair scheme of distributive justice would look like, (2) sketch what I take to be a truly fair (though unappealing) scheme of distributive justice, and, (3) (in conclusion) suggest that the unwillingness or inability of Rawls, Nozick, and Cohen to be constrained by fairness highlights the potential disutility of fairness as a major determinant in the proper distribution of primary goods.

  • distributive justice,
  • rawls,
  • nozick,
  • affirmative action
Publication Date
September 26, 2008
Citation Information
Nathan W. Dean. "Fairness and the Distribution of Primary Goods" ExpressO (2008)
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