Rawls as a critical theorist: Reflective equilibrium after the ‘deliberative turn’

Philosophy and Social Criticism 32 (2):173-191 (2006)
An interpretation of John Rawls’ ‘justice as fairness’ as a deliberative critical argumentative strategy for evaluating existing institutions is offered and its plausibility is discussed. I argue that ‘justice as fairness’ aims at synthesizing the moral values claimed by existing social institutions into a coherent model of a well-ordered society in order to demand that these institutions stand up to the values that they promise. Understood in such a way, ‘justice as fairness’ provides a set of idealizing ‘mirrors’ through which power dynamics in society can be viewed but does not function as a model for an ideal society. Key Words: distributive justice • immanent criticism • justice as fairness • political liberalism • public reason • John Rawls • reflective equilibrium.
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