Advertisement

Res Publica

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 101–116 | Cite as

Envy, Facts and Justice: A Critique of the Treatment of Envy in Justice as Fairness

  • Patrick Tomlin
Article

Abstract

A common anti-egalitarian argument is that equality is motivated by envy, or the desire to placate envy. In order to avoid this charge, John Rawls explicitly banishes envy from his original position. This article argues that this is an inconsistent and untenable position for Rawls, as he treats envy as if it were a fact of human psychology and believes that principles of justice should be based on such facts. Therefore envy should be known about in the original position. The consequences for Rawlsian theory—both substantive and methodological—are discussed.

Keywords

Egalitarianism Envy Facts and principles Rawls Social contract 

References

  1. Ben-Ze’ev, Aaron. 1990. Envy and jealousy. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 20: 487–516.Google Scholar
  2. Ben-Ze’ev, Aaron. 1992. Envy and inequality. The Journal of Philosophy 9: 551–581.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Cohen, G.A. 1997. Where the action is: on the site of distributive justice. Philosophy and Public Affairs 26: 3–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cohen, G.A. 2003. Facts and principles. Philosophy and Public Affairs 31: 211–245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cohen, G.A. 2008. Rescuing Justice and Equality. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Norman, Richard. 2002. Equality, envy and the sense of injustice. Journal of Applied Philosophy 19: 43–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Nozick, Robert. 1974. Anarchy, state and utopia. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  8. Rawls, John. 1999. A theory of justice: revised edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Walsh, George V. 1992. Rawls and envy. Reason Papers 17: 3–27.Google Scholar
  10. Wolff, Robert Paul. 1977. Understanding Rawls. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Young, Robert. 1987. Egalitarianism and envy. Philosophical Studies 52: 261–276.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Balliol CollegeUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

Personalised recommendations