Justice among Us : A Philosophical Analysis of Michael Walzer’s Theory of Justice

University dissertation from Linköping : Linköping University Electronic Press

Abstract: The American philosopher Michael Walzer has been regarded as one of the most influential theorists in the field of distributive justice since the publication of Spheres of Justice in 1983. However, despite the popularity, his theory is often misunderstood or said to suffer from serious shortcomings.The aim of the dissertation is to present and defend a clearer and stronger version of Walzer’s theory of distributive justice. After a brief sketch of Walzer’s early works, in which important concepts were introduced and developed, the mature theory is analysed. By subjecting the key areas of Walzer’s theory to a critical and reconstructive philosophical analysis, a stronger and more detailed account is gained. Important ideas and concepts such as community, consent, interpretation, social meanings, complex equality and minimal morality are discussed, criticised and revised in order to strengthen the theory. In addition, a comparison is made between John Rawls’s method of wide reflective equilibrium and Walzer’s interpretative method; it is argued that the methods of the two philosophers exhibit considerable similarities.

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