November, 2018

Constructing Public Distributive Justice: On the Method of Functionalist Moral Theory

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Functionalism sees a conception of justice as not merely an abstract standard or value. Instead, members of society must be able to use a conception of justice for some social function. This chapter's central concern is to better understand the functionalist approach to justice through an examination of this idea in an interpretation of John Rawls's work. We seek to draw out key themes in this functionalist interpretation of Rawls's work and indicate some of the implications of a functionalist project such as the fact that functionalism may require the metrics of distributive justice to significantly differ from the metrics most relevant to personal well-being or true advantage under a moral philosophic account. The final sections highlight the potential of functionalism as a basis for a progressive research agenda, and address concerns about ideal theory.