Rawls’s Defense of the Priority of Liberty: A Kantian Reconstruction

Philosophy and Public Affairs 31 (3):246–271 (2003)
Rawls offers three arguments for the priority of liberty in Theory, two of which share a common error: the belief that once we have shown the instrumental value of the basic liberties for some essential purpose (e.g., securing self-respect), we have automatically shown the reason for their lexical priority. The third argument, however, does not share this error and can be reconstructed along Kantian lines: beginning with the Kantian conception of autonomy endorsed by Rawls in section 40 of Theory, we can explain our highest-order interest in rationality, justify the lexical priority of all basic liberties, and reinterpret Rawls’ threshold condition for the application of the priority of liberty. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this Kantian reconstruction will not work within the radically different framework of Political Liberalism.
Keywords John Rawls  Immanuel Kant  priority of liberty  autonomy
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/j.1088-4963.2003.00246.x
 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 Robert S. Taylor, Rawls’s Defense of the Priority of Liberty: A Kantian Reconstruction
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Ricardo Blaug (1986). John Rawls and the Protection of Liberty. Social Theory and Practice 12 (2):241-258.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Gregory Whitfield (forthcoming). Self-Respect and Public Reason. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy:1-20.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

1,427 ( #206 of 1,941,049 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

416 ( #115 of 1,941,049 )

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.