a1 Texas Christian University
Our aim is to draw a set of distinctions among types of goods which has significant implications for theories of distributive justice. We begin by providing a general account of two sets of properties—fungibility and nonfungibility, divisibility and indivisibility—and argue that goods can be distinguished according to these criteria. Further, we contend that these distinctions entail complications for structural principles of distributive justice (i.e., principles such as maximin that distribute payoffs to positions). As an example we consider James Fishkin's discussion of structural principles, arguing that Fishkin's view that (i) value, structure, and assignment are independent holds only to the degree that the goods considered are fungible and divisible, (ii) structural principles face difficulties beyond those which Fishkin identifies and addresses with his principle of nontyranny, since structural principles cannot accommodate highly nonfungible, indivisible goods, and (iii) these difficulties can be managed through the application of a value-sensitive proviso. We then show that two important goods, medical care and advanced education, are highly nonfungible and indivisible and thus support the distinctions drawn earlier. Finally, we specify the nature of complementary contributions as well as coordination problems between structural principles and the value-sensitive proviso in their application to distributive justice issues.
(Accepted July 07 1989)
(Received March 27 1990)
Richard F. Galvin is associate professor of philosophy, Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, TX 76129.
Charles Lockhart is professor of political science, Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, TX 76129.