The Significance of Distribution<sup>1</sup>

Aaron James

in Reasons and Recognition

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199753673
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918829 | DOI:
The Significance of Distribution1

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Why does it matter, from the point of view of justice, what distributions come about? Scanlon’s moral theory, seen as a theory of justice, has under-appreciated consequences for this question. Distributions, taken as such, cannot then be either just or unjust, since they can be owed only insofar as they reflect the “personal reasons” of different individuals. The significance of distribution lies, not in the impersonal value of a distributional pattern per se, but in what it means for the relation of moral “recognition” that each person bears to each other person. This essay defends these consequences, develops an appropriate conception of “recognition,” and suggests that the moral relation of recognition explains several structural features of Scanlon’s theory, especially its “personalism.”

Keywords: individualism; personalism; personal reasons; impersonal reasons; recognition; moral relation; egalitarianism; luck egalitarianism; distributive justice; contractualism

Chapter.  15670 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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