Justice in context: assessing contextualism as an approach to justice

Ethics and Global Politics 5 (2):71-94 (2012)
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Abstract

Moral and political philosophers are increasingly using empirical data to inform their normative theories. This has sparked renewed interest into questions concerning the relationship between facts and principles. A recent attempt to frame these questions within a broader approach to normative theory comes from David Miller, who has on several occasions defended ‘contextualism’ as the best approach to justice. Miller argues that the context of distribution itself brings one or another political principle into play. This paper examines this claim. It considers several plausible strategies for carrying out Miller’s general project and argues that each strategy fails. Nevertheless, the author maintains that an investigation into why they fail paves the way for a philosophically plausible account of the relationship between facts and principles.Keywords: justice; contextualism; global distributive justice; justification; John Rawls; David Miller

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Michael Buckley
Lehman College (CUNY)

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