Is Rawlsian Justice Bad for the Environment?

Analyse & Kritik 28 (2):146-157 (2006)
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In this paper I show that Rawls’s contract apparatus in A Theory of Justice depends on a particular presumption that is in conflict with the goal of conserving environmental resources. He presumes that parties in the original position want as many resources as possible. I challenge Rawls’s approach by introducing a rational alternative to maximising. The strategy of satisficing merely goes for what is good enough. However, it seems that under conditions of scarcity Rawls’s maximising strategy is the only rational alternative. I therefore scrutinise the common account of scarcity. I distinguish between absolute and relative scarcity in order to show that scarcity is influenced by our decisions. If we would not accept the claim to as much as possible without further legitimisation, like Rawls does, then scarcity might not be as severe a problem. Finally, I reject Rawls’s proposed solution for dealing with problems of sustainability, namely his idea of the just savings principle. I conclude that Rawlsian Justice as Fairness is bad for the environment



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Thomas Schramme
University of Liverpool

References found in this work

Justice and Future Generations.D. Clayton Hubin - 1976 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 6 (1):70-83.
Just Savings and the Difference Principle.Steven Wall - 2003 - Philosophical Studies 116 (1):79-102.

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