The Journal of Contemporary Legal Issues


Horacio Spector


This paper is organized in six sections. In the following section, I discuss Dworkin’s and Cohen’s views regarding the function of markets in providing a method of social assessment. I suggest that their treatment of social valuation is of limited use because it is restricted to rudimentary economic systems like the immigrants’ island and the camping trip. In section III, I argue that the principle of responsibility is indeterminate in that it lacks a criterion of social value. I also claim that a Paretian interpretation of social value is the most plausible way to give concrete meaning to the idea of responsibility defended by luck egalitarians. Section IV contends that market prices’ information and motivational functions are empirically inseparable in any large feasible or sustainable society. In Section V, I take the argument from social valuation to its conclusion that the inequalities of condition caused by market prices are a necessary feature of the Paretian interpretation of the principle of responsibility in any feasible or sustainable economic system. In other words, under the assumption that market prices are the only available method of social valuation in large societies, the principle of responsibility presupposes the adoption of a system of social valuation that runs afoul of the principle of equality. Finally, I conclude in Section VI.





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