Distributive Justice: The Complexities of Membership
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Michael Walzer breaks from typical modes of political philosophy. The standard move in political theory is for a philosopher to distance himself from the particular community he lives in order to gain a viewpoint unencumbered by history or culture. From this perspective, the philosopher can come up with universal, or “external”, principles that define distributive justice for all societies throughout time. Michael Walzer believes that this theoretical practice is flawed because it is impossible for a person to break free from history and culture to theorize in such a manner. Instead, Walzer focuses on a society’s particular history, culture, and identity in determining the just principles for the distribution of different goods in society, what he terms “spheres.” Walzer’s “internal” break from “external” theorizing is successful; it is realistic and defensible against criticism. However, Walzer’s internal perspective is problematic when determining distributive principles for a particular sphere, membership, because its particularities make it something other than a sphere. This essay aims to analyze the complexities of membership, and shed some light on where it stands in relation to Walzer’s internal spherical theory.
Franklin and Marshall College Archives, Undergraduate Honors Thesis 2013
- F&M Theses Collection