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Publication Details

On the Universality of the Principles of Distributive Justice

(Original title: On the Universality of the Principles of Distributive Justice)
Filozofia, 64 (2009), 9, 876-888.
Type of work: Pohľad za hranice
Publication language: English

The question of whether “justice” has a universal meaning or it has different mea-nings in various social schemes has been answered by some philosophers in opposite directions. Michael Walzer is among those who argue that principles of justice vary from one society to another in accordance with different meanings of primary goods, arising from particular historical background conditions. There is no single set of primary goods such as money, political power, social posts, and honors, whose meanings are shared across all cultures; nor are there universally shared principles of distributive justice for him. In this paper, I argue that Walzer’s claim that whether distribution of social goods is just or unjust depends on the cultural meanings of the goods is untenable and indeed inherently flawed. I shall also suggest that one may adopt a pluralistic approach to principles of distributive justice without being committed to Walzer’s relativism.


Distributive justice, Walzer, Relativism, Pluralism, Universalism, Social goods

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