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New Perspectives on Distributive Justice

Deep Disagreements, Pluralism, and the Problem of Consensus

Ed. by Knoll, Manuel / Snyder, Stephen / Şimsek, Nurdane

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November 2018
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Marxist Critiques of the Difference Principle

Demir, Aysel


This paper focuses on contradictions in John Rawls’s theory of distributive justice and presents the Marxist critique regarding the distribution of goods on the basis of abilities and needs via the difference principle. The paper examines Rawls’s unjust and non-egalitarian theory. In doing so, it pays special attention to significant gaps in his second principle. Rawls is criticized by Marxists, especially analytical Marxists, because of some gaps in his theory. In A Theory of Justice, the difference principle allows and identifies inequalities as acceptable in the distribution of goods only if those inequalities benefit the worst-off members of society. In this sense, Rawls legitimizes inequality with the difference principle which for him is the basis of distribution, whereas Marx’s, and Marxist, theories of distributive justice advocate the principle “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”. In these circumstances, Marxists claim that the difference principle is unacceptable. Therefore, analytical Marxists philosophers are in disagreement with Rawls.

Citation Information

Aysel Demir (2018). Marxist Critiques of the Difference Principle. In Manuel Knoll, Stephen Snyder, Nurdane Şimsek (Eds.), New Perspectives on Distributive Justice: Deep Disagreements, Pluralism, and the Problem of Consensus (pp. 487–502). Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110537369-030

Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110537369

Online ISBN: 9783110537369

© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/BostonGet Permission

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