Just Economic Institutions
Two of the several ways in which the question of justice in economic arrangements can be attacked have recently found detailed exposition in books by philosophers: John Rawls, A Theory of Justice,l and Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State, and Utopia.2 Consideration of the approaches taken by these two authors, as well as the very different conclusions arrived at, may lead us to a better understanding of the difficulty of reaching agreement as to what are (and what are not) just economic institutions. We should say, by way of introduction, that neither the tools of analysis used nor the institutions scrutinized by these authors are exclusively economic. But economic analysis and economic institutions bulk large in both expositions, and the focus of our attention will be restricted to those areas, more narrowly to the economic institutions of property and inheritance. This restriction is not as serious as might at first appear, for the character and developmental path of an economic system are shaped by the design of its institutions regarding property, property rights, and the rights to bequeath and inherit.
KeywordsCapital Accumulation Social Contract Distributive Justice Economic Institution Basic View
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