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Ought We to Do What We Ought to be Made to Do?

Reasons and Intentions in Law and Practical Agency. 2014. Georgios Pavlakos and Veronica Rodriguez-Blanco, eds. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (Forthcoming)

51 Pages Posted: 23 May 2011 Last revised: 17 Mar 2014

William A. Edmundson

Georgia State University College of Law

Date Written: November 3, 2013

Abstract

The late Jerry Cohen struggled to reconcile his egalitarian political principles with his personal style of life. His efforts were inconclusive, but instructive. This chapter locates the core of Cohen’s discomfort in an abstract principle that connects what we morally ought to be compelled to do and what we have a duty to do anyway. The connection the principle states is more general and much tighter than Cohen and others, e.g. Thomas Nagel, have seen. Our principles of justice always put our personal integrity to the test, unless those principles are designed not to. But to craft principles with an view to avoiding that test is, as Cohen argued, itself to undermine both justice and our integrity.

Keywords: egalitarianism, distributive justice, justice, GA Cohen, Rawls, Nagel

JEL Classification: K100

Suggested Citation

Edmundson, William A., Ought We to Do What We Ought to be Made to Do? (November 3, 2013). Reasons and Intentions in Law and Practical Agency. 2014. Georgios Pavlakos and Veronica Rodriguez-Blanco, eds. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (Forthcoming). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1849207 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1849207

William A. Edmundson (Contact Author)

Georgia State University College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 4037
85 Park Place NE
Atlanta, GA 30302-4037
United States
404-413-9167 (Phone)
404-413-9225 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://law.gsu.edu/wedmundson/

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