Is Justice Verdictive?

Publication Title

Georgia State University College of Law Magazine

Document Type


Publication Date



Is justice a factor among many to be considered in reaching an all-things-considered judgment about what is the right thing to do, or the right way to regulate society? The negative answer to this question could be expressed by saying that justice is verdictive, in the sense introduced by J. L. Austin. The late Jerry Cohen held, to the contrary, that justice is not the last word on the subject of what to do or how to arrange things. In his view justice is not verdictive, and it is on this basis that he makes one of his important criticisms of Rawls. Rawls, according to Cohen, wrongly conflated principles of justice with principles for right regulation of society and, as a result, mistakenly relaxed the tight connection between justice and equality. In this short essay, I try to reconstruct Cohen’s argument against the verdictive account, and I try to show that that argument fails. I also give reasons in favor of regarding justice as a verdictive concept.

Recommended Citation

William A. Edmundson, Is Justice Verdictive? (May 12, 2014). Georgia State University College of Law, Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2014-20.

This document is currently not available here.