Title: Beyond an ungreen-economics-based political philosophy: three strikes against 'the difference principle'

Authors: Rupert Read

Addresses: School of Philosophy, UEA, Norwich, NR4 7TJ, UK

Abstract: ||Beyond an ungreen-economics-based political philosophy|| John Rawls|s liberalism is the dominant political philosophy of our time. But is it compatible with the values of green economics? I argue in this paper that it is founded on ungreen economics. In particular, Rawls|s |difference principle|, which takes inequalities to be just if they benefit the worst off, is subjected here to three counter-arguments. Firstly, an argument based on one from Norman Daniels. Secondly, an argument based on one from Jerry Cohen. Thirdly, and most originally: inegalitarian modes of |societal| organisation are ecologically unsustainable. The difference principle unconsciously assumes that the Earth is infinite, that the more we raise the lowest boats the better; disregarding that we may already have raised the lowest boats – in Western societies at least – let alone, obviously, the higher boats, more than the ecosphere can tolerate. (And: in a steady-state, inequalities would be more socially unsustainable than ever.) Three strikes: the difference principle is out…

Keywords: John Rawls; Jerry Cohen; Norman Daniels; difference principle; liberalism; ecological sustainability; green economics; political philosophy.

DOI: 10.1504/IJGE.2011.042556

International Journal of Green Economics, 2011 Vol.5 No.2, pp.167 - 183

Received: 08 May 2021
Accepted: 12 May 2021

Published online: 17 Sep 2011 *

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