chapter  1
19 Pages

“Fairness and Legitimacy in Justice, And: Does Option Luck Ever Preserve Justice?”

WithG.A. COHEN

The most signifi cant articles, in my opinion, that emerged from the germination of those years were “The Natural Right to Equal Freedom” (1974), “The Natural Right to the Means of Production” (1977), and “The Structure of a Set of Compossible Rights” (1977). The last of those three merits special admiration. The majestic project of “Structure” was to derive a complete answer to the question, what is justice? on the basis of two premisses: that people have equal fundamental rights, and that it is a condition of a coherent set of rights that all rights in the set can be exercised simultaneously, in whatever way the right-holders choose. “Structure” was the founding document, or manifesto, of what came to be known as “Left Libertarianism”, a libertarianism that affi rms self-ownership together with a radically egalitarian regime over worldly resources. And if “Structure” was Steiner’s Manifesto, then An Essay on Rights was his Capital. (I do not say that the philosophical project of “Structure” was successful. I think it fails to prove what it sets out to prove, which is something that it has in common with Leibniz’s Monadology, Kant’s Grundlegung, Plato’s Republic, and, indeed, Marx’s Capital.)

The present paper is a set of variations on a theme to which I was introduced by Hillel.