Conceptual Analysis and Distributive Justice

28 Pages Posted: 11 Jun 2013 Last revised: 25 Jul 2014

See all articles by Matthew H. Kramer

Matthew H. Kramer

University of Cambridge; University of Cambridge - Faculty of Law

Date Written: June 1, 2013


This paper, written for the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Distributive Justice, ponders several understandings of conceptual analysis in the context of debates over distributive justice. The paper's first three main sections consider the concept/conception distinction in its multi-layered complexity in a couple of prominent recent accounts of justice. It explores how those theories of justice unfold over several levels of increasing specificity. Thereafter, the paper takes up the vexed question whether expositions of the concept of justice can ever be austerely analytical or formal rather than morally value-laden. After distinguishing between value-independence and value-neutrality, the paper argues that -- although some possible accounts of justice are at least partly value-neutral -- no accounts of justice are ever value-independent.

Keywords: justice, distributive justice, Rawls, Dworkin, Hillel Steiner, conceptual analysis, concepts, political philosophy

JEL Classification: K4, K49

Suggested Citation

Kramer, Matthew H., Conceptual Analysis and Distributive Justice (June 1, 2013). University of Cambridge Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 15/2013, Available at SSRN: or

Matthew H. Kramer (Contact Author)

University of Cambridge ( email )

Trinity Ln
Cambridge, CB2 1TN
United Kingdom
44-1223-336231 (Phone)

University of Cambridge - Faculty of Law ( email )

10 West Road
Cambridge, CB3 9DZ
United Kingdom

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics