Burdened Societies and Transitional Justice

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 15 (3):369 - 386 (2011)
Following John Rawls, nonideal theory is typically divided into: (1) "partial-compliance theory" and (2) "<span class='Hi'>transitional</span> theory." The former is concerned with those circumstances in which individuals and political regimes do not fully comply with the requirements of justice, such as when people break the law or some individuals do not do their fair share within a distributive scheme. The latter is concerned with circumstances in which background institutions may be unjust or may not exist at all. This paper focuses on issues arising in <span class='Hi'>transitional</span> theory. In particular, I am concerned with what Rawls' has called "burdened <span class='Hi'>societies</span>," that is, those <span class='Hi'>societies</span> that find themselves in unfavorable conditions, such that their historical, social or economic circumstances make it difficult to establish just institutions. The paper investigates exactly how such burdened <span class='Hi'>societies</span> should proceed towards a more just condition in an acceptable fashion. Rawls himself tells us very little, except to suggest that <span class='Hi'>societies</span> in this condition should look for policies and courses of action that are morally permissible, politically possible and likely to be effective. In this paper I first try to anticipate what a Rawlsian might say about the best way for burdened <span class='Hi'>societies</span> to handle <span class='Hi'>transitional</span> problems and so move towards the ideal of justice. Next, I construct a model of <span class='Hi'>transitional</span> justice for burdened <span class='Hi'>societies</span>. Ultimately, I argue for a model of <span class='Hi'>transitional</span> justice that makes use of a nonideal version of Rawls' notion of the worst-off representative person.
Keywords Burdened societies  Transitional theory  Nonideal theory  Development  Human rights
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DOI 10.2307/23254295
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References found in this work BETA
Amartya Sen (2009). The Idea of Justice. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
John Rawls (1993). Political Liberalism. Columbia University Press.
J. Rawls (1995). Political Liberalism. Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 57 (3):596-598.
A. John Simmons (2010). Ideal and Nonideal Theory. Philosophy and Public Affairs 38 (1):5-36.

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