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Social Theory and Practice

Volume 42, Issue 1, January 2016

Alfred Archer
Pages 57-73
DOI: 10.5840/soctheorpract20164213

Community, Pluralism, and Individualistic Pursuits
A Defense of Why Not Socialism?

Is socialism morally preferable to free market capitalism? G.A. Cohen has argued that even when the economic inequalities produced by free markets are not the result of injustice, they nevertheless ought to be avoided, because they are community-undermining. As free markets inevitably lead to economic inequalities and socialism does not, socialism is morally preferable. This argument has been the subject of recent criticism. Chad Van Schoelandt argues that it depends on a conception of community that is incompatible with pluralism, while Richard Miller argues that it rules out individualistic pursuits. I will show that both of these objections rest upon a misreading of Cohen’s argument.