San Diego Law Review


George Crowder

Library of Congress Authority File


Document Type



My general task in this paper is to argue that Ronald Dworkin is incorrect about the indeterminate and paralyzing character of pluralism. The background worry that motivates Dworkin's attack on the truth of pluralism is misplaced. Pluralism is not the field of indeterminacy and reform paralysis that he supposes it to be. More specifically, I argue this point with reference to the question of justice in economic distribution. Using the liberal-pluralist approach I have developed elsewhere, I try to show that a value-pluralist approach to distributive justice, far from leading to inaction or acquiescence in existing patterns of power, commends a program of egalitarian redistribution - thus far, a position much like that of Dworkin himself. Matters get more complex when one asks what kind of egalitarianism is most in keeping with pluralism. Here Dworkin is again center stage as a leading figure in the debate between rival welfare, resource, and capability- based views. In this debate, I align pluralism most closely with the capabilities approach while acknowledging the reach of Dworkin's arguments in favor of resources. I begin by summarizing my version of liberal pluralism, emphasizing that the notion of pluralism implies not only value conflicts and hard choices but also a set of normative principles that are capable of guiding public policy. I then use that framework to adjudicate between rival approaches to distributive justice within liberalism, starting with the basic division between laissez-faire and egalitarian-redistributive approaches and proceeding to the leading alternatives within egalitarianism.