In this article I argue for two closely related conclusions: one concerned more narrowly with the internal consistency of G. A. Cohen’s theorizing about justice and the unique rhetoric in which it is couched, the other connected to a more sweeping set of recommendations about how theorizing on justice is most promisingly undertaken. First, drawing on a famous insight of G. E. Moore, I argue that although the (Platonic) purity of Cohenian justice provides Cohen a platform from which to put some extremely challenging criticisms to Rawls and Rawlsian liberals, at the same time it generates a sort of self-referential paradox for many of the theses about the concept of justice to which Cohen himself is committed. I go on to conclude, using Rawls’s theory of justice as a model, that it would serve political philosophy well to conceive of justice with less purity than Cohen conceives of it.


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pp. 323-342
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