By Julian CulpAbstract:
In this article I argue that G.A. Cohen is mistaken in his belief that the concept of justice needs to be rescued from constructivist theorists of justice. In doing so, I rely on insights of John Rawls’ later work Political Liberalism and Rainer Forst’s discourse theory of justice. Such critical engagement with Cohen’s critique of constructivism is needed, because Cohen bases his critique of constructivism almost exclusively on Rawls’s arguments and positions in A Theory of Justice. He thus neglects – at least by and large – that Rawls had further developed his constructivist method of justification in his later work Political Liberalism, as well as that Forst’s discourse-theoretical works offer elaborate versions of constructivism. These renewed versions of constructivism recognize a plurality of reasonable conceptions of ideal justice and draw an important distinction between moral and political constructivism. Because of these features these advanced constructivist theories are not in need of Cohen’s rescue.