Are rawlsians entitled to monopoly rights?

In A. Gosseries, A. Marciano & A. Strowel (eds.), Intelectual Property and Theories of Justice. Palgrave-MacMilan (2008)
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Are intellectual property rights for talented people justified by Rawls’ criteria of justice? In this paper, I argue that Rawls’ theory of justice is ill-equipped to answer this question. Tailored for rival goods and, as a result, centred on the distribution of benefits, it tends to restate questions of justice about unequal rights as questions about economic inequalities. Therefore, it lacks the tools necessary to distinguish among different forms of incentives for talented people. Once social and economic inequalities observe equality of opportunity and improve the least advantaged, the theory is indifferent as to whether talented people are allowed to compete for monopoly rights or for direct financial reward.

Author's Profile

Speranta Dumitru
Université Paris Descartes


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