Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Mandle, Jon. Review of G. A. Cohen's RESCUING JUSTICE AND EQUALITY. NDPR (August 2009).

Cohen, G. A. Rescuing Justice and Equality. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2008. Over the course of the more than 400 pages of Rescuing Justice and Equality (RJE) G. A. Cohen provides a relentless, sophisticated, and insightful critique of elements of John Rawls's A Theory of Justice (TJ). It is refreshing, therefore, that early on he takes a few pages to express his great admiration for Rawls's work, stating his belief that "at most two books in the history of Western political philosophy have a claim to be regarded as greater than A Theory of Justice: Plato's Republic and Hobbes's Leviathan" (RJE 11). These remarks helpfully clarify the spirit in which his critique is presented. His criticisms are powerful ones, but they are intended to be constructive -- part of a common project to get things right. This is what serious philosophical engagement should be like. I will only be able to sketch the bare outlines of a few of the many meticulous and fine-grained arguments that he offers. Although I do not agree with the main criticisms he advances, there are many arguments with which I do agree, and even where I disagree, Cohen does a great service by clarifying what is at stake and exploring the range of options available. . . . Read the whole review here:

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