chapter  4
Distributive Justice
WithJean Hampton
Pages 48

This chapter presents four different ways of defining distributive justice: utilitarianism, Rawlsian contractarianism, libertarianism, and egalitarianism. The theory of utilitarianism was outlined by the English philosopher Jeremy Bentham, who was intent on providing a political theory for the British Parliament and other governments to use in constructing sound, rational legislation. Whereas utilitarianism might be said to allow individuals to be held hostage to the well-being of the community, libertarianism might be said to allow the community's well-being to be held hostage to the rights, and in particular the property rights, of individuals. Many political theorists have endorsed some form of egalitarian theory of distributive justice, and it is an idea that is frequently associated with "socialism". Marxists also criticize those who emphasize distributive justice but for reasons quite different from those of the communitarians. Finally, there are feminist critics of political theory's focus on distributive justice.