In this superb introduction, Samuel Freeman introduces and assesses the main topics of Rawls' philosophy. Starting with a brief biography and charting the influences on Rawls' early thinking, he goes on to discuss the heart of Rawls's philosophy: his principles of justice and their practical application to society. Subsequent chapters discuss Rawls's theories of liberty, political and economic justice, democratic institutions, goodness as rationality, moral psychology, political liberalism, and international justice and a concluding chapter considers Rawls' legacy. Clearly setting out (...) the ideas in Rawls' masterwork, _A Theory of Justice_, Samuel Freeman also considers Rawls' other key works, including _Political Liberalism_ and _The Law of Peoples_. An invaluable introduction to this deeply influential philosopher, _Rawls_ is essential reading for anyone coming to his work for the first time. (shrink)
Samuel Freeman was a student of the influential philosopher John Rawls, he has edited numerous books dedicated to Rawls' work and is arguably Rawls' foremost interpreter. This volume collects new and previously published articles by Freeman on Rawls. Among other things, Freeman places Rawls within historical context in the social contract tradition, and thoughtfully addresses criticisms of this position. Not only is Freeman a leading authority on Rawls, but he is an excellent thinker in his own right, and these articles (...) will be useful to a wide range of scholars interested in Rawls and the expanse of his influence. (shrink)
Each volume of this series of companions to major philosophers contains specially commissioned essays by an international team of scholars and will serve as a reference work for students and nonspecialists. John Rawls is the most significant and influential philosopher and moral philosopher of the twentieth century. His work has profoundly shaped contemporary discussions of social, political and economic justice in philosophy, law, political science, economics and other social disciplines. In this exciting collection of new essays, many of the world's (...) leading political and moral theorists discuss the full range of Rawls's contribution to the concepts of political and economic justice, democracy, liberalism, constitutionalism, and international justice. There are also assessments of Rawls's controversial relationships with feminism, utilitarianism and communitarianism. New readers will find this the most accessible guide to Rawls currently available. Advanced students and specialists will find a conspectus of recent developments in the interpretation of Rawls. (shrink)
Liberalism and Distributive Justice discusses liberalism, capitalism, distributive justice, and John Rawls's difference principle. Chapters are organized in a narrative arc: from liberalism as the dominant political and economic system, to the laws governing interpersonal transactions in liberal society, to basic economic and political institutions that determine distributive justice.
Liberalism generally holds that legitimate political power is limited and is to be impartially exercised, only for the public good. Liberals accordingly assign political priority to maintaining certain basic liberties and equality of opportunities; they advocate an essential role for markets in economic activity, and they recognize government's crucial role in correcting market breakdowns and providing public goods. Classical liberalism and what I call “the high liberal tradition” are two main branches of liberalism. Classical liberalism evolved from the works of (...) Adam Smith and the classical utilitarian economists; its major 20th century representatives include Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman. The high liberal tradition developed from John Stuart Mill's works, and its major philosophical representatives in the 20th century are John Dewey and, later, John Rawls. This paper discusses the main distinguishing features of the classical and the high liberal traditions and their respective positions regarding capitalism as an economic and social system. Classical liberals, unlike high liberals, regard economic liberties and rights of private property in productive resources to be nearly as important as basic liberties. They conceive of equality of opportunity in more formal terms, and regard capitalist markets and the price system as essential not only to the allocation of production resources, but also as the fundamental criterion for the just distribution of income, wealth, and economic powers. High liberals, by contrast, regard the economic liberties as subordinate to the exercise of personal and civic liberties. They are prepared to regulate and restrict economic liberties to achieve greater equality of opportunities, reduce inequalities of economic powers, and promote a broader conception of the public good. And while high liberals endorse markets and the price system as essential to allocation of productive resources, they do not regard markets as the fundamental criterion for assessing just distributions of income, wealth, and economic powers and positions of responsibility. The paper concludes with some reflections upon the essential role that dissimilar conceptions of persons and society play in grounding the different positions on economic justice that classical and high liberals advocate. (shrink)
Cosmopolitans argue that the account of human rights and distributive justice in John Rawls's The Law of Peoples is incompatible with his argument for liberal justice. Rawls should extend his account of liberal basic liberties and the guarantees of distributive justice to apply to the world at large. This essay defends Rawls's grounding of political justice in social cooperation. The Law of Peoples is drawn up to provide principles of foreign policy for liberal peoples. Human rights are among the necessary (...) conditions for social cooperation, and so long as a decent people respect human rights, a common good, and the Law of Peoples, it is not the role of liberal peoples to impose upon well-ordered decent peoples liberal liberties they cannot endorse. Moreover, the difference principle is not an allocative or alleviatory principle, but applies to design property and other basic social institutions necessary to economic production, exchange and consumption. It presupposes political cooperation—a legislative body to actively apply it, and a legal system to apply it to. There is no feasible global state or global legal system that could serve these roles. Finally, the difference principle embodies a conception of democratic reciprocity that is only appropriate to cooperation among free and equal citizens who are socially productive and politically autonomous. a Footnotesa I am grateful to K. C. Tan for many helpful discussions and criticisms of this essay. I am also grateful to the other contributors to this volume for their comments, and to Ellen Paul for her many helpful suggestions in preparing the final version of this essay. (shrink)
John Rawls says: “The main problem of distributive justice is the choice of a social system.” Property-owning democracy is the social system that Rawls thought best realized the requirements of his principles of justice. This article discusses Rawls’s conception of property-owning democracy and how it is related to his difference principle. I explain why Rawls thought that welfare-state capitalism could not fulfill his principles; it is mainly because of the connection he perceived between capitalism and utilitarianism.
The publicity of a moral conception is a central idea in Kantian and contractarian moral theory. Publicity carries the idea of general acceptability of principles through to social relations. Without publicity of its moral principles, the intuitive attractiveness of the contractarian ideal seems diminished. For it means that moral principles cannot serve as principles of practical reasoning and justification among free and equal persons. This article discusses the role of the publicity assumption in Rawlss and Scanlons contractualism. I contend that (...) a regard for publicity and a moral conceptions potential to provide a public basis for justification and agreement account for much of the evolution of Rawlss account of justice after A Theory of Justice . I also discuss whether contractualism can provide a basis for justification and general agreement under the social conditions that it endorses. I contend that it cannot, and conclude with a discussion showing why this should not be a problem for contractualism. Despite appearances, contractualism is a distinctive form of contractarianism, substantially different from Rawlss position and the social contract tradition out of which it evolved. Key Words: contractarianism contractualism John Rawls public justification T.M. Scanlon justice. (shrink)
It has long been argued that the institution of judicial review is incompatible with democratic institutions. This criticism usually relies on a procedural conception of democracy, according to which democracy is essentially a form of government defined by equal political rights and majority rule. I argue that if we see democracy not just as a form of government, but more basically as a form of sovereignty, then there is a way to conceive of judicial review as a legitimate democratic institution. (...) The conception of democracy that stems from the social contract tradition of Locke, Rousseau, Kant and Rawls, is based in an ideal of the equality, independence, and original political jurisdiction of all citizens. Certain equal basic rights, in addition to equal political rights, are a part of democratic sovereignty. In exercising their constituent power at the level of constitutional choice, free and equal persons could choose judicial review as one of the constitutional mechanisms for protecting their equal basic rights. As such, judicial review can be seen as a kind of shared precommitment by sovereign citizens to maintaining their equal status in the exercise of their political rights in ordinary legislative procedures. I discuss the conditions under which judicial review is appropriate in a constitutional democracy. This argument is contrasted with Hamilton's traditional argument for judicial review, based in separation of powers and the nature of judicial authority. I conclude with some remarks on the consequences for constitutional interpretation. (shrink)
A discussion of T M Scanlon's contractualism as a foundational account of the nature of morality. The article discusses how contractualism provides an account of moral truth and objectivity that is based in an idealization of moral reasoning. It then develops contractualism's account of moral motivation to show how it provides a way to understand obscure but central aspects of Kantian views: the claims that moral reasons are of a special kind, and that moral motives have a basis in practical (...) reason. This account is contrasted with human conceptions of moral motivation, which are argued to be incapable of accounting for the stringency of moral reasons and obligations. (shrink)
This chapter contains sections titled: What Are Fundamental Principles of Justice? Justice, Human Needs and Moral Capacities The Social Role of a Conception of Justice Justice and the Human Good Methodological Remarks Notes.
John Rawls's focus on principles of justice for the basic structure of primary social institutions evolved from his early discussion of practices, social rules and Humean conventions, and his apparent commitment to a version of rule‐utilitarianism. Rawls says that there are two sources for the primacy assigned to the basic structure: the profound effects of basic social institutions on persons and their future prospects, and the need to maintain background justice. The chapter discusses three different kinds of reasons for the (...) primacy of principles for the basic structure: social nature of human relationships, ideals of persons and society, distributive justice and the importance of background justice. It concludes with a discussion of some prominent objections: monism vs dualism; capitalism, incentives and the institutional division of labor; the principles of justice are neither consequentialist nor prioritarian; social justice vs cosmopolitan justice. (shrink)
For close to forty years now T.M. Scanlon has been one of the most important contributors to moral and political philosophy in the Anglo-American world. Through both his writing and his teaching, he has played a central role in shaping the questions with which research in moral and political philosophy now grapples. Reasons and Recognition brings together fourteen new papers on an array of topics from the many areas to which Scanlon has made path-breaking contributions, each of which develops a (...) distinctive and independent position while critically engaging with central themes from Scanlon's own work in the area. Contributors include well-known senior figures in moral and political philosophy as well as important younger scholars whose work is just beginning to gain wider recognition. Taken together, these papers make evident the scope and lasting interest of Scanlon's contributions to moral and political philosophy while contributing to a deeper understanding of the issues addressed in his work. (shrink)
Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, John Rawls received his undergraduate and graduate education at Princeton. After earning his Ph.D. in philosophy in 1950, Rawls taught at Princeton, Cornell, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and, since 1962, at Harvard, where he is now emeritus. Rawls is best known for A Theory of Justice (1971) and for developments of that theory he has published since. Rawls believes that the utilitarian tradition has dominated modern political philosophy in English-speaking countries because its critics (...) have failed to develop an alternative social and political theory as complete and systematic. Rawls's aim is to develop such an alternative: a contractarian view of justice, derived from the tradition of Locke, Rousseau, and especially Kant. Rawls carries social contract theory to a "higher order of abstraction" by viewing the principles of justice themselves as the objects of a social contract. Justice is the solution to a problem, which arises in this way: Society, as it is conceived in a liberal democracy, is a cooperative venture between free and equal persons for their mutual advantage. Individuals participate in it in order to implement their conceptions of the good life. Cooperation makes a better life possible for everyone by increasing the stock of what Rawls calls "primary goods" - things which it is rational to want whatever else you want, because they are required for any conception of a good life. Primary social goods include rights, liberties, powers, opportunities, income, wealth, and the social bases of self-respect. But society is also characterized by conflict, since people disagree not only about how its benefits and burdens should be distributed, but also about conceptions of the good. Principles of justice are used to evaluate the distributions of benefits and burdens and the institutions which effect them. Rawls's idea is to identify an acceptable conception of justice by asking what principles it would be reasonable for the members of society to agree to, which is to say, what principles would be fair.. (shrink)