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The Basic Structure and the Principles of Justice


This article develops an account of how economic and political institutions can limit the applicability of principles of justice even in non-relational cosmopolitan conceptions. It shows that fundamental principles of justice underdetermine fair distributive shares as well as justice-based requirements. It argues that institutions partially constitute the content of justice by determining distributive shares and by resolving indeterminacies about justice-based requirements resulting from strategic interaction and disagreement. In the absence of existing institutions principles of justice might not be applicable for assessing distributions or guiding individual action and institutional design. Hence, accepting a specific cosmopolitan conception of justice is insufficient to settle global distributive questions.

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Andrea Sangiovanni , ‘Global Justice, Reciprocity, and the State’, Philosophy and Public Affairs 35 (2007), pp. 339

Thomas Nagel , ‘The Problem of Global Justice’, Philosophy and Public Affairs 33 (2005), pp. 113–47

Michael Blake , ‘Distributive Justice, State Coercion, and Autonomy’, Philosophy and Public Affairs 30 (2001), pp. 257–96

Arash Abizadeh , ‘Cooperation, Pervasive Impact, and Coercion: on the Scope (not Site) of Distributive Justice’, Philosophy and Public Affairs 35 (2007), pp. 318–58

A. J. Julius , ‘Nagel's Atlas’, Philosophy and Public Affairs 34 (2006), pp. 176–92

Saladin Meckled-Garcia , ‘On the Very Idea of Cosmopolitan Justice: Constructivism and International Agency’, Journal of Political Philosophy 16 (2008), pp. 245–71

David Copp , ‘The Idea of a Legitimate State’, Philosophy and Public Affairs 28 (1999), pp. 345

A. John Simmons , ‘On the Territorial Rights of States’, Philosophical Issues 11 (2001), pp. 300–26

Timothy Endicott , ‘Law is Necessarily Vague’, Legal Theory 7 (2001), pp. 379–85

Jeremy Waldron , Law and Disagreement (Oxford, 1999)

Thomas W. Pogge , ‘On the Site of Distributive Justice: Reflections on Cohen and Murphy’, Philosophy and Public Affairs 29 (2000), pp. 137–69

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  • ISSN: 0953-8208
  • EISSN: 1741-6183
  • URL: /core/journals/utilitas
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