G. A. Cohen
14 April 1941
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
5 August 2009
Marxism, Analytic Philosophy, Egalitarianism
Political philosophy, Ethics, Philosophy of history, Social theory
Strict Difference Principle, Egalitarian Ethos
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 defends an interpretation of Karl Marx's Theory of History: A Defence Marx's historical materialism often referred to as ' technological determinism' by its critics. In [1 ] 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.
(1978, 2000) Karl Marx's Theory of History: A Defence
(1988) History, Labour, and Freedom
Self-Ownership, Freedom, and Equality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1995. ISBN 978-0-5214-7174-9. OCLC 612482692.
If You're an Egalitarian, How Come You're So Rich? (2000) Chapter in
Dworkin and his Critics, with replies by Dworkin (2004)
Rescuing Justice and Equality (2008)
Why Not Socialism? (2009) [Trad. esp.: ¿Por qué no el socialismo?, Buenos Aires/Madrid, Katz editores, 2011, ISBN 978-84-92946-13-6]
On the Currency of Egalitarian Justice, and Other Essays in Political Philosophy (2011)
Finding Oneself in the Other (2012)
Lectures on the History of Moral and Political Philosophy (2013)
^ Singer, Peter (2000). Marx: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 105. ISBN 0-19-285405-4.
The Egalitarian Conscience: Essays in Honour of G. A. Cohen (2006); edited by Christine Sypnowich
Tomey, Simon (2012), "An interview with Jerry Cohen.", in Browning, Gary; Dimova-Cookson, Maria; Prokhovnik, Raia, Dialogues with contemporary political theorists, Houndsmill, Basingstoke, Hampshire New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 74–85, ISBN 9780230303058