Gerald A. Cohen (1941–2009) and Marxism: Contributions and a Look from Afar

Fabien Tarrit

Table of Contents


Philosopher Gerald A. Cohen died on the 5th of August 2009. His initial contribution focused on Marx’s thought. It appeared on the intellectual stage in 1978 with the publication of Karl Marx’s Theory of History: A Defence, and established Analytical Marxism. Later, he gradually departed from Marx’s theory. He discussed the libertarian concept of self-ownership and its possible association with the Marxist approach, before entering the normative debate around Rawls’s Theory of Justice. Based on Kantian philosophy, his critique of Rawls was that Rawls’s theory gave too little autonomy to individual choice. This paper discusses the consistency of Jerry Cohen’s intellectual journey through his relationship with Marx’s work.


  • historical materialism
  • analytical philosophy
  • self-ownership
  • political philosophy