G. A. Cohen

Gerald Allan "Jerry" Cohen (14 April 1941 – 5 August 2009) was a Marxist political philosopher who held the positions of Quain Professor of Jurisprudence, University College London and Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory, All Souls College, Oxford. Born into a communist family in Montreal, Cohen was educated at McGill University, Canada (BA, philosophy and political science) and the University of Oxford (BPhil, philosophy) where he studied under Isaiah Berlin and Gilbert Ryle. Cohen was assistant lecturer (1963–1964), lecturer (1964–1979) then reader (1979–1984) in the Department of Philosophy at University College London, before being appointed to the Chichele chair at Oxford in 1985. Several of his students, such as Alan Carter, Will Kymlicka, John McMurtry, David Leopold, Michael Otsuka, Seana Shiffrin and Jonathan Wolff have gone on to be important moral and political philosophers in their own right. Known as a proponent of Analytical Marxism and a founding member of the September Group, Cohen's 1978 work Karl Marx's Theory of History: A Defence defends an interpretation of Marx's historical materialism often referred to as 'technological determinism' by its critics. In Self-Ownership, Freedom, and Equality, Cohen offers an extensive moral argument in favour of socialism, contrasting his views with those of John Rawls and Robert Nozick, by articulating an extensive critique of the Lockean principle of self-ownership as well as the use of that principle to defend right – as well as left – libertarianism. In If You're an Egalitarian, How Come You're So Rich? (which covers the topic of his Gifford Lectures) Cohen addresses the question of what egalitarian political principles imply for the personal behaviour of those who subscribe to them. Continue Reading »

Why Not Socialism?
Karl Marx's Theory of History
Rescuing Justice and Equality
If You're an Egalitarian, How Come You're So Rich?

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