Rational, Fair, and Reasonable

Utilitas 8 (03):263- (2009)
There can be no doubt that Brian Barry has made an enormous contribution to the clarification of the ideas of justice current in contemporary political thought. In Barry’s Justice as Impartiality he explicitly distinguishes and sets in competition three models of justice: justice as mutual advantage; justice as reciprocity; and justice as impartiality (the ‘rational’, ‘fair’ and ‘reasonable’ of my title), and he argues that we should prefer the last of these. What I want to do here is to consider four questions. First, what is this competition a competition about? Second, has Barry adequately characterised the contenders? Third, can the competition be won on the grounds Barry suggests? Fourth, is it a competition that we should want to be won by a single theory? By contrast I want to argue that there are advantages in retaining a pluralist perspective in which all three approaches remain in play
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