Intrinsic Goods and Distributive Justice in Education

Christopher Martin, Tal Gilead

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1 Scopus citations


What is the relationship between the fair distribution of goods in general, and the intrinsic, or distinctive, value of educational goods in particular? In this article, Christopher Martin and Tal Gilead argue that clarifying this relationship has significant importance for educational justice, and they aim to accomplish this by focusing on questions of resource allocation. In particular, the authors draw on Michael Walzer's theory of “spherical” justice in order to argue that intrinsic goods are important enough that they should be of normative concern for any theory of educational justice. That is to say, a conception of educational justice that takes distributive relationships seriously should account for how the nonpositional values of education are served by resource allocation, and not only socioeconomic or other positional goods. However, Martin and Gilead also claim that such a pluralist theory of educational justice should not open the door to educational policies and practices that are plainly “antiegalitarian.” They address this concern by proffering a distinction between, and criteria for adjudicating, legitimate and illegitimate judgments of justice that aim to protect or promote intrinsic educational goods.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)543-557
Number of pages15
JournalEducational Theory
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2019

Bibliographical note

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  • Michael Walzer
  • distributive justice
  • intrinsic educational goods
  • nonpositional goods
  • theory of spherical justic


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