Why Distributive Justice Is Impossible but Contributive Justice Would Work

Science and Society 80 (1):31-55 (2016)
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Distributive justice, defined as justice in distribution of income and wealth, is impossible. Income and wealth are distributed either unequally or equally. If unequally, then those with less are unjustly subject to social contempt. But equal distribution is impossible because it is inconsistent with bargaining to advance our own good. Hence justice in distribution of income and wealth is impossible. More generally, societies where social relations are mediated by money are necessarily unjust, and Marx was wrong to think a socialist society which retained money would lead to communism. Contributive justice proposes that each flourishes by advancing the flourishing of others. To achieve this goal all labor, both simple and complex, must be shared among all capable of doing it. The good of contributing our abilities to benefit others is then available to all non-competitively.

Author's Profile

Paul Gomberg
University of California, Davis


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