A Defense of the Maximin Principle in Rawls' Theory of Justice

Abstract

In his celebrated work, A Theory of Justice (1971), John Rawls argues that, from behind the veil of ignorance, parties in the original position will employ the maximin decision rule to reason to his two principles of justice. In this journal, Olatunji Oyeshile offers a brief and concise outline of some of the historical criticisms of that argument. Oyeshile offers two important criticisms of Rawls' argument. Both, however, are somewhat misplaced, as I shall show. First, he claims that decision theory offers parties in the original position other decision procedures. In fact, none of the alternatives are suitable, given the situation. And second, parties in the original position would first guarantee some minimum of libertarian goods, and then seek additional profits. This objection demonstrates a misunderstanding of the place of the maximin decision rule, as I shall show. I believe that both criticisms stem from a close and careful reading of Buchanan's essay on Rawls. Unfortunately, Buchanan himself seemed to have misunderstood Rawls' original arguments. I rely on problems in Buchanan's original work to defend Rawls' theory against Oyeshile's criticisms.

Download options

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 72,855

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Analytics

Added to PP
2011-03-24

Downloads
144 (#83,695)

6 months
9 (#81,087)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Robert C. Robinson
CUNY Graduate Center

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Rawls' Avowed Error in Rational Contractarianism.Jung Soon Park - 2008 - Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 10:325-340.
A Theory of Justice?Philip Pettit - 1974 - Theory and Decision 4 (3-4):311-324.
Rawlsian Justice.Fabienne Peter - 2009 - In Paul Anand, Prastanta Pattanaik & Clemens Puppe (eds.), Handbook of Rational and Social Choice. Oxford University Press. pp. 433--456.
Xxxx. Xxxx - 2007 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 6 (2):193-217.
Rawls and the Problem of Honour.Kevin W. Gray - 2012 - Philosophia 40 (2):213-222.