Monday, August 17, 2009

G. A. Cohen (1941 - 2009).

Update: "Professor Jerry Cohen, Philosopher." Times August 11, 2009.
Jerry Cohen was one of the liveliest and most imaginative minds — and wittiest lecturers — in the international philosophical community. He was best known as a leading contributor to the analytical Marxism movement of the 1980s, But when he finally acknowledged that the Marxist project was beyond rescue, he spent the rest of his career defending the egalitarian morality that he always thought was the heart of Marx’s criticisms of the unjust, arbitrary and irrational capitalist system. The culmination of those efforts, Rescuing Justice and Equality, appeared in 2008, but the brief and very accessible Why Not Socialism? will now appear posthumously in the autumn. . . . (
Original Post (August 5, 2009): Gerald Allan "Jerry" Cohen (1941-2009) was a Marxist political philosopher, formerly the Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory, All Souls College, Oxford. In 2008-2009 he will be Quain Professor of Jurisprudence, University College London. Born into a communist Jewish family in Montreal, Cohen was educated at McGill University, Canada (BA, philosophy and political science) and the University of Oxford (BPhil, philosophy) where he studied under Isaiah Berlin and Gilbert Ryle. Cohen was formerly assistant lecturer (1963-1964), lecturer (1964-1979) then reader (1979-1984) in the Department of Philosophy at University College London, before being appointed to the Chichele chair at Oxford in 1985. Several of his former students, such as Alan Carter, Will Kymlicka, John McMurtry, Michael Otsuka, Seana Shiffrin and Jonathan Wolff have gone on to be important political philosophers in their own right. Known as a proponent of Analytical Marxism and a founding member of the September Group, Cohen's 1978 work Karl Marx's Theory of History: A Defence defends an old-fashioned interpretation of Marx's historical materialism often referred to as 'economic determinism' or 'technological determinism' by its critics. In Self-Ownership, Freedom, and Equality, Cohen offers an extensive moral argument in favour of socialism, contrasting his views with those of John Rawls and Robert Nozick, by articulating an extensive critique of the Lockean principle of self-ownership as well as the use of that principle to defend right –as opposed to left– libertarianism. In If You're an Egalitarian, How Come You're So Rich? (which covers the topic of his Gifford Lectures) Cohen addresses the question of what egalitarian political principles imply for the personal behavior of those who subscribe to them. . . . Read the full Wikipedia Entry here:

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