Inequality, Difference, and Prospects for Democracy

In Jon Mandle & David A. Reidy (eds.), A Companion to Rawls. Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 312–323 (2013)
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Abstract

Rawls's signature is the thought experiment he introduced to sort out the requirements of justice. Rawls argues that “justice as fairness” will be a form of political liberalism. Rawls claims that under free institutions we should expect “profound and irreconcilable differences” in people's religious and philosophical worldviews, and in people's basic notions of what makes life worth living. In his vision of democracy, the solidarity required to support common political values and egalitarian norms of distributive justice must be built through productive and fair social cooperation. Social solidarity is needed to support democratic equality, and this solidarity must be built through the mutual production and reciprocal sharing of the fruits of social cooperation. Constraining socioeconomic inequality is an essential aspect of a just scheme of social cooperation and a necessary basis for securing a mutual commitment to the rights, liberties, and opportunities that give democracy its substance and meaning.

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Erin I. Kelly
Tufts University

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