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Liberalism and Distributive Justice$
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Samuel Freeman

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190699260

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190699260.001.0001

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The Social and Institutional Bases of Distributive Justice

The Social and Institutional Bases of Distributive Justice

Chapter:
(p.203) 6 The Social and Institutional Bases of Distributive Justice
Source:
Liberalism and Distributive Justice
Author(s):

Samuel Freeman

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190699260.003.0007

This chapter argues that distributive justice is institutionally based. Certain cooperative institutions are basic: they are necessary for economic production and the division of labor, trade and exchange, and distribution and consumption. These background institutions presuppose principles of justice to specify their terms, allocate productive resources, and define fair distributions. Primary among these basic institutions are property; laws and conventions enabling transfers of goods and productive resources; and the legal system of contract and agreements that make transfers possible and productive. Political institutions are necessary to specify, interpret, enforce, and make effective the terms of these institutions. Thus, basic cooperative institutions are social; they are realizable only within the context of social and political cooperation—this is a fixed empirical fact about cooperation among free and equal persons. Given the nature of fair social cooperation as a kind of reciprocity, distributive justice is primarily social rather than global in reach.

Keywords:   distributive justice, social justice, social institutions, economic justice, global justice

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