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Virtuous Circularity: Positive Law and Particular Justice


  • Claudio Michelon

    1. Edinburgh Law School, Old College, South Bridge, Edinburgh, UK
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    • At various stages of its development, this paper benefited enormously from comments by Zenon Bankowski, Luis Fernando Barzotto, Sharon Cowan, Wendy Van Der Neut, Francisco Saffie, an anonymous reviewer for Ratio Juris, and the members of the Stirling Political Philosophy Group.


This paper argues that the positive allocative decisions paradigmatically carried out by the application of legal rules are a necessary condition for arguments about particular justice (i.e., distributive and commutative justice) to make sense. If one shifts the focus from the distinction between distributive and commutative justice to what the two aspects of particular justice are for, namely, providing criteria to judge the allocation of goods, it becomes clear that the distinction is conceptually unstable. The paper argues that stabilizing the distinction is worthwhile and that this can only be accomplished by the introduction of positive allocation schemes.

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