Rawls (The Routledge Philosophers)
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
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.
among rational persons who are regarded as equals. It is not essential to the argument of any of the major proponents of social contract doctrine whether there has been or will ever be any actual social contract by all (adult) members of a society. The fact that people actually agree to something, even if they do so unanimously, is of no moral import by itself, unless their agreement first satisfies various reasonable (moral) and Introduction 17 rational (evaluative) conditions, they have
and equal self-governing agents who have an essential interest in maintaining their freedom, equality, and independence. It is the primary role of democratic government to maintain the conditions for realizing this ideal of persons. To enforce contracts whereby citizens attempt to alienate their own or obtain ownership of others’ basic liberties is a misuse of public 52 Rawls political power. It fails to show respect for persons as equal citizens. This is perhaps the main regard in which
fully assess the force of Rawls’s arguments in Theory for the priority of liberty until the problem of the constitutional specification of the basic liberties is resolved. For how can we know whether it is rational to give the abstract basic liberties of the first principle priority over all other social concerns, if we do not know first what the more specific liberties are that we are committed to giving priority to? Rawls implies in Theory that the parties run no risks by giving priority to
liberties – unregulated rights to suicide and rights to use narcotics, for example (though not a right to sell oneself into slavery) – Rawls’s first principle would not seem to protect such conduct and would allow it to be regulated and restricted for other reasons (for example, to maintain the integrity of people’s moral powers).28 Moreover, whereas Mill’s principle would seem to allow for gambling, prostitution, and pornography so long as their supply, availability, and enjoyment do not violate
(TJ, Part III). The main argument for the difference principle is not found until section 49 and is easy to miss. In Justice as Fairness: A Restatement Rawls amends his initial arguments and adds further considerations to support the parties’ agreement on justice as fairness. Here I discuss each of the four initial arguments in sections 26–29, and then the argument for the difference principle. Rawls seems to think that the justification of justice as fairness is forged through the combined force