The Problem of Historical Rectification for Rawlsian Theory

Res Publica 20 (3):227-243 (2014)
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In this paper we claim that Rawls’s theory is compatible with the absence of rectification of extremely important historical injustices within a given society. We hold that adding a new principle to justice-as-fairness may amend this problem. There are four possible objections to our claim: First, that historical rectification is not required by justice. Second, that, even when historical rectification is a matter of justice, it is not a matter of distributive justice, so that Rawls’s theory is justified in leaving it unaddressed. Third, that dealing with historical injustice is outside of the scope of ideal theory, so that even when historical rectification is required by justice, Rawls’s theory starts with the assumption that no such historical injustice has occurred. Fourth, that while historical injustice is within the scope of Rawls’s theory, there is no need for further principles of justice to deal with it, so that the correct regulation of the principles of justice-as-fairness would ensure the rectification of all relevant historical injustices of a particular society. While we offer several arguments against the first and second objections, we address the last two at length and show that both fail



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Author Profiles

Moises Vaca
National Autonomous University of Mexico

Citations of this work

Rawls and racial justice.D. C. Matthew - 2017 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 16 (3):235-258.
Nonideal Justice as Nonideal Fairness.Marcus Arvan - 2019 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 5 (2):208-228.
Reparations and Egalitarianism.Megan Blomfield - 2021 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 24 (5):1177-1195.

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References found in this work

A Theory of Justice: Revised Edition.John Rawls - 1999 - Harvard University Press.
Political Liberalism.John Rawls - 1993 - Columbia University Press.
Justice as fairness: a restatement.John Rawls (ed.) - 2001 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
The idea of justice.Amartya Sen - 2009 - Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
The law of peoples.John Rawls - 1999 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Edited by John Rawls.

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