Cohen’s Egalitarian Ethos: What Does the Political Require of the Personal?
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G.A. Cohen’s critique of John Rawls holds that it is insufficient to approach the problem of justice as one of principles governing laws and institutions alone. Instead, an appropriate social ethos must motivate the citizens to act from these principles in order to ensure that society is characterized by equality. The following will argue that Cohen’s concerns with Rawls are well-founded. However, even citizens motivated by a sense of justice will possess motives that are non-egoistic, yet inegalitarian in effect. Therefore, just citizens should not be expected to enact the same principles as just institutions.