In-Spire: Journal of Law, Politics and Societies vol:5 issue:2 pages:86-101
The provision of environmental goods has inevitably distributive implications because some will use or value environmental goods more than others. Most egalitarian theories of distributive justice, have been focused on the redistribution of privately-held goods and leave the redistributive impact of public goods, such as environmental goods, aside. One exception to this public goods gap in theories of justice is David Miller. According to Miller we need to measure the redistributive impact of public goods and develop a tax scheme which maximizes ‘equalizing of net gains’. Miller’s account has not been undisputed. According to Humprey, Miller ignores the irreplaceability of environmental goods. According to Hannis, Miller fails to make a distinction between wants and ideals. I will argue that Miller’s position can be maintained against these two criticisms. It will be, nevertheless, argued that there are fundamental desirability and feasibility problems with Miller’s approach in that it relies on economic valuation. A one-dimensional measure such as economic valuation is not suitable to deal with the incommensurable aspect of environmental goods. Dealing with incommensurability requires a more deliberative approach. Moreover, Miller’s approach reduces public goods to a matter of efficiency and distribution and leaves no room for value-based public goods.