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Distributive justice: Sen's critique of Rawls

It is discussed to what extent Amartya Sen's normative approach to socioeconomic inequalities represents an improvement with respect to John Rawls's approach. Sen's critique of the equalisandum of Rawls's theory (the so-called "primary goods") and Sen's arguments for equality of capability are examined. It is argued that though Sen's metric seems particularly fitted to deal with poverty and destitution, this is not the case when inequalities above a minimally decent level of "capability to function" are in question. For the latter purpose, Rawls' metric of primary goods is preferable.

distributive justice; equality of primary goods; equality of capability

Instituto de Estudos Sociais e Políticos (IESP) da Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (UERJ) R. da Matriz, 82, Botafogo, 22260-100 Rio de Janeiro RJ Brazil, Tel. (55 21) 2266-8300, Fax: (55 21) 2266-8345 - Rio de Janeiro - RJ - Brazil