NYU Gallatin Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Navigation Skip to Sub Navigation

Back to Courses

The Philosophy and Welfare Politics of Distributional Justice

Semester and Year SP 2014
Course Number IDSEM-UG1466
Section 001
Instructor Justin Holt
Days Fri
Time 3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Units 4.0
Level U
Foundation Requirement SOC


Are the outcomes of capitalist exchanges fair or unfair? Is capitalism supportive or detrimental to democratic virtues? Does the welfare state rectify the problems of capitalism or exacerbate them? John Rawls’ work A Theory of Justice has greatly shaped these considerations of the welfare state. His theory refined many of the debates concerning the fairness of capitalist economic outcomes and the effects capital accumulation has on democratic virtues. According to Rawls, the welfare state in some form was necessary for capitalism to have morally acceptable outcomes. But, critics of Rawls have called into question welfare state interventions, many finding them economically inefficient and detrimental to democratic virtues. Other critics have founds Rawls’ theory to be too limited in its impact, thereby supporting more extensive interventions into capital accumulation. In this course we will try to answer questions about the morality of capitalist accumulation by studying theoretical conceptions of Rawls’ work and the responses of his critics. The main texts of Rawls’ critics we will consider are Nozick’s Distributive Justice and Cohen's Rescuing Justice and Equality . These theoretical conceptions will be contrasted with the case studies contained in Esping-Andersen’s The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism .



Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)

NYU Gallatin Footer

New York University
Gallatin School of Individualized Study
1 Washington Place
New York, NY 10003
(212) 998-7370