Von Clausewitz thought that war is just the continuation of politics by other means. I hold that it’s exactly the reverse. But if all political categories are reducible, without remainder, to military ones, to what are considerations of distributive justice reducible? Tribute? Precisely! But is it helpful to view issues of distributive justice this way? I argue that it is. The folk-vocabulary acquiesced to by traditional political philosophy may swell our hearts. But it leaves political counsel decidedly undecidable, and it renders us vulnerable to exploitations against which military vocabulary offers us much better protection. This reduction is, I concede, more than a tad disgusting. But so is most life-saving surgery!

Viminitz, Paul. “The reduction of distributive justice to tribute.” ethic@-An international Journal for Moral Philosophy 3.1 (2004): 15-26.

The Reduction of Distributive Justice to Tribute (link to web, accessed 2 February 2022)


Categories: Published Papers, Social and Political Philosophy

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