A set of similar theories that reject, what may be called, one-dimensional theories of justice, the main idea of which is that all goods should be distributed according to some unique criterion. Pluralists hold that goods which are normally distributed in any society are too different to be distributed according to only one criterion. To almost every one of these various kinds of goods we should apply a criterion that is characteristic for it. Thus we have diverse spheres of justice in which there are different criteria that tell us which distributions are morally right. If the result is to be just, a criterion which holds in one sphere should not be applied in another one. For instance, rewards and punishments should be distributed according to desert, jobs according to ability, political positions according to wishes of citizens as expressed at the elections, medical care according to needs, income according to success on the market, and the like. If it happens that someone with the help of his money (which is the measure of business success) or his political power manages to influence the size of his share of other kinds of goods (for example, if he buys a reward or an exemption from punishment), than justice is seriously violated. If the independence of distributive spheres is not trespassed, some individuals will always do better than other ones in any of the spheres, but it is highly unlikely that these will be the very same persons in all of the spheres. In that way pluralism allows many small inequalities but definitely not an unique, great one which has an impact on all kinds of goods. Given this, everyone has a much greater chance to be successful in some respect, and at the same time many negative aspects of equalising everyone in every respect are evaded.

The main representatives of this way of thinking are Michael Walzer and David Miller.

  John Rawls
  Ronald Dworkin
  Right Libertarianism
Left Libertarianism
  Strict Egalitarianism
  Bibliography >