Marxists have viewed the task of socialism as the elimination of exploitation, defined in the Marxian manner in terms the excess of labor expended over of labor commanded. I argue that the concept of Marxian exploitation commits both type-one (false positives) and type-two (false negatives) errors as a diagnosis of distributive injustice: it misses instances of distributive injustice because they do not involve exploitation, and it calls some economic relations characterized by exploitation unjust when they are not. The most important reformulators of Marx’s concept of socialism, which implicitly or explicitly attempt to correct the Marxian errors, are Oscar Lange, James Meade, John Rawls, Robert Nozick, Ronald Dworkin and G.A. Cohen. I trace this development, and argue for a re-definition of socialist principles based upon it.
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