Justice in Ideal Theory: A Refutation

Political philosophers have recently begun to take seriously methodological questions concerning what a theoretical examination of political ideals (e.g. justice) is suppose to accomplish and how effective theorising in ideal theory is in securing those aims. Andrew Mason (2004) and G.A. Cohen (2003), for example, believe that the fundamental principles of justice are logically independent of issues of feasibility and questions about human nature. Their position contrasts sharply with political theorists like John Dunn (1990) and Joseph Carens (2000) who believe that normative theorising must be integrated with an appreciation of the empirical realities of one’s society. Rather than bracket questions of feasibility and human nature, empirically-oriented political theorists believe that real, non-ideal considerations (like our historical circumstances, problems of institutional design, etc.) must be taken seriously when deriving normative theories of justice.1 And some justice-theorists, most notably John Rawls (1971, 1996), attempt to..
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    David Wiens (2012). Prescribing Institutions Without Ideal Theory. Journal of Political Philosophy 20 (1):45-70.
    Lisa Fuller (2012). Burdened Societies and Transitional Justice. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 15 (3):369 - 386.
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