The Reasonable in Justice as Fairness

Canadian Journal of Philosophy 29 (1):75 - 107 (1999)
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The publication of Political Liberalismhas allowed John Rawls to bring to the fore issues that remained in the background of A Theory of Justice. His explicit attention to the concept of ‘the reasonable’ is a welcome development. In a more recent publication, he affirms the importance of this concept, ‘while [granting] that the idea of the reasonable needs a more thorough examination than Political Liberalism offers.’ In this paper, I will present a critical exposition of the senses of the reasonable on which justice as fairness relies. Rawls employs the term in four main contexts. I will outline these various senses and argue that in each case, a controversy in the secondary literature can be resolved by close attention to the concept of the reasonable. In three of these contexts, Rawls relies on what I will call a ‘strong’ sense of the reasonable, while in one he sometimes seems to rely on a ‘weak’ sense. I argue that justice as fairness is best served by relying on a strong sense throughout.



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Jon Mandle
State University of New York, Albany

References found in this work

Political Liberalism.J. Rawls - 1995 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 57 (3):596-598.
Kantian constructivism in moral theory.John Rawls - 1930 - Journal of Philosophy 77 (9):515-572.
Contractualism and utilitarianism.Thomas M. Scanlon - 1982 - In Amartya Kumar Sen & Bernard Arthur Owen Williams (eds.), Utilitarianism and Beyond. Cambridge University Press. pp. 103--128.
Impartial Reason.Stephen L. Darwall - 1983 - Ethics 96 (3):604-619.

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