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date: 05 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the relation between distributive doctrines and human nature. It reviews various responses to the conservative view that many progressive social reforms are doomed because of human nature. Some responses present a different view of human nature while others stress that human nature can be modified because it is the product of nurture or because it can be socially or biomedically altered. The chapter also offers an evolutionary approach to values like ‘liberté, égalité, fraternité’ and discusses whether human nature could have more than merely instrumental relevance to distributive justice. For example, our endorsement, and interpretation, of moral demands regarding human rights, human flourishing, and human capabilities, or even regarding the principles of sufficiency, equality and priority, may depend on assumptions about human nature.

Keywords: human nature, human rights, evolution, liberty, fraternity, equality, priority, sufficiency

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