Rawls on the practicability of utilitarianism

Politics, Philosophy and Economics 8 (2):201-221 (2009)
John Rawls's claim to have demonstrated the superiority of his own two principles of justice to the principle of utility has generated fairly extensive critical discussion. However, this discussion has almost completely disregarded those of Rawls's arguments that are concerned with practicability, despite the significance accorded to them by Rawls himself. This article addresses the three most important of Rawls's objections against the practicability of utilitarianism: (1) that utilitarianism would generate too much disagreement to be politically workable, (2) that a utilitarian society would be vulnerable to social instability, and (3) that publicly adopting the principle of utility as the ultimate criterion of right and wrong would undermine the self-respect of some citizens. It is argued that Rawls's objections are either exaggerated or mistaken, and that this may have an impact on the assessment of `justice as fairness' as well as the utilitarian doctrine. Key Words: justice as fairness • feasibility • disagreement • stability • self-respect.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 9,360
External links
  • Through your library Configure
    References found in this work BETA

    No references found.

    Citations of this work BETA
    Similar books and articles

    Monthly downloads

    Added to index


    Total downloads

    66 ( #18,338 of 1,088,905 )

    Recent downloads (6 months)

    2 ( #42,743 of 1,088,905 )

    How can I increase my downloads?

    My notes
    Sign in to use this feature

    Start a new thread
    There  are no threads in this forum
    Nothing in this forum yet.