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I have argued, first, that justice as fairness requires eliminating the GDL to the extent that is entrenched within the basic structure and to the extent that it is justified by the doctrine of natural sex differences. This conclusion follows, I have claimed, from Rawls’s argument that precepts of moral desert are incompatible with the ideals of justice as fairness: no precepts of justice that would arise under justice as fairness, for regulating various features of the basic structure, would reward moral virtue. It follows that no precepts of justice would reward men and women for exhibiting or cultivating their alleged sex-specific virtues by confining, formally or informally, their opportunities for employment, education, and so on to those that correspond to those virtues. I have argued, second, that Rawls’s vision of POD suggests that such a system would be devoid of an institutionalized GDL, given that in a POD all citizens - men and women - possess adequate means to support themselves and their dependents, enjoy the fair value of the political liberties, and have substantive equality of opportunity.


I am grateful to Amy R. Baehr and Asha Bhandary for their helpful feedback on earlier versions of this chapter.


  • 1. This is not to imply that division is just in other societies; I confine my discussion to these societies because the Rawlsian framework I will deploy is designed for those societies.
  • 2. Domestic work that is not care work (such as housework) raises different issues of justice as does care work that women provide to nondependent men. See White (2003, 108-113) and Bartky (1990, 99-119).
  • 3. In characterizing the injustice of the GDL, I am understanding it to be contrary to distributive justice broadly construed. For a critique of this approach, see Schouten (2016).
  • 4. A Pareto efficient distribution is one in which it is not possible to make anyone better off without making someone worse off.
  • 5. He focuses on POD because it is less familiar than liberal socialism and because it has in common with welfare state capitalism the private ownership of the means of production. Hence its differences from welfare state capitalism might be harder to discern. “Property-owning democracy” is a system advocated by Meade (1965).
  • 6. Those citizens not fully capable of social cooperation are arguably provided for through a social minimum (Stark 2007).
  • 7. This is why Rawls says, “The principles of justice that regulate the basic structure and specif)' the duties and obligations of individuals do not mention moral desert and there is no tendency for distributive shares to correspond to it” (1971, 311). This assertion is mysterious on the received view, which sees Rawls as arguing against a desert-based theory rather than arguing against interpreting justice as fairness as a desert-based theory.
  • 8. The marginal productivity theory says that in a perfectly competitive market, the equilibrium wage rate is equal to the equilibrium value of the marginal product of labor. The marginal product of labor is the increase in output produced by the last unit of labor employed in a particular labor market. The value of the marginal product of labor is the marginal product of labor multiplied by the price per unit of output. The marginal productivity theory says that when a particular labor market is in equilibrium - that is, when all workers are employed and all employers who need workers have them - the wage rate earned in that field is equal to the market’s equilibrium value of the marginal product. It is equal, that is, to the value of the marginal product of the last worker hired in that market (Krugman and Wells 2013,539-551).
  • 9. “Nor,” Rawls says, “does the basic structure tend to balance the precepts of justice so as to achieve the requisite correspondence [between moral worth and distributive shares] behind the scenes” (1971, 312).
  • 10. In the argument for the democratic equality interpretation of the difference principle, or, what Cohen calls, the “Pareto argument for inequality” (Rawls 1971, 65-83; Cohen 2008, 87-115).
  • 11. Contemporary versions of the natural differences argument are explanatory rather than prescriptive: they claim not that women and men should be encouraged by social design to do work that corresponds to their natures but rather that what explains the gendered division of labor is that women and men tend to choose the types of work associated with traditional gender roles: their natures determine their preferences (Hakim 2007; Crompton 2007). I see the two approaches (prescriptive and explanatory) as related in this way: the historical prevalence of an enforced gendered division of labor has reinforced socially constructed gender differences and has created a gendered incentive structure that together guide women and men to choose work that corresponds to their alleged natural differences. Those choices are then interpreted as evidence for the existence of those natural differences. For a critique of arguments with this structure, see Haslanger (2003). This is not to deny outright that there exist natural sex differences in, for example, preferences for care work, but rather to make the Millian point that there is little warrant for inferring the existence of such differences from women’s choices when women have historically been trained and coerced to do such work
  • (Mill 1977, 57). A critique of the soundness of scientific views of women’s nature prevalent in the late 19th and early 20th centuries can be found in Klein (1971).Thanks to Amy Baehr for pressing me on this point.
  • 12. Antony quotes Kant here: “Laborious learning or painful pondering, even if a woman should greatly succeed in it, destroy the merits that are proper to her sex” (Kant 1994, 103).
  • 13. In contrast, Susan Okin’s proposal of a split paycheck aims to compensate women for their disproportionate responsibility for care work (1989, 180-181). See also Bojer (2002, 402-406), Hirschmann (2016), and Ferguson (2016).
  • 14. For a different approach to the issue of POD and gender justice, see Robeyns (2012). POD is often contrasted with a universal basic income (UBI). Feminists disagree as to the usefulness of the UBI as a way to combat the GDL. See, for example, Elgarte (2008), Gheaus (2008), and Robeyns 2008. For a general discussion of the merits of UBI versus POD, see Ackerman, Alston, and Van Parijs (2006).
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