This is the introduction to the Ashgate volume on Rawls in their history of political thought series. It puts Rawls's life and work in context and then discusses the essays included in the volume, essays of high quality likely to shape scholarship on Rawls for the coming decades.
This is an encyclopedia entry (for the IVR Encyclopedia of legal and political philosophy) covering John Rawls. It aims to provide a general but not superficial introduction to Rawls's theory of justice, justice as fairness.
Distinguishes and shows how one can coherently affirm distinct human rights agendas rooted in distinct conceptions of human rights, each with its own normative aim and institutional and discursive field of application.
In this review essay, I first set out and then subject to criticism the main claims advanced by William Talbott in his excellent recent book, “Which Rights Should be Universal?”. Talbott offers a conception of basic universal human rights as the minimally necessary and sufficient conditions to political legitimacy. I argue that his conception is at once too robustly liberal and democratic and too inattentive to key features of the rule of law to play this role. I suggest that John (...) Rawls’s conception of human rights comes closer to hitting the mark Talbott sets for himself and that Talbott incorrectly rejects Rawls’s view. I conclude that what likely divides Talbott and Rawls is that Rawls, but not Talbott, explicitly frames the inquiry into the minimally necessary and sufficient conditions to political legitimacy in terms of a liberal democratic people attempting to determine, as a matter of its just foreign policy, whether or not to recognize other organized polities as independent and self-determining within the international order. (shrink)
In The Law of Peoples, John Rawls does not discuss justice and the global economy at great length or in great detail. What he does say has not been well-received. The prevailing view seems to be that what Rawls says in The Law of Peoples regarding global economic justice is both inconsistent with and a betrayal of his own liberal egalitarian commitments, an unexpected and unacceptable defense of the status quo. This view is, I think, mistaken. Rawls’s position on global (...) or international economic justice is richer, more nuanced, and generally more compelling than his critics have been willing to acknowledge. My aim in this essay is to sympathetically set out, and then defend against two common families of objection to, Rawls’s position on global or international economic justice. Objections of the first sort reject Rawls’s position as inadequately attentive to the material and economic interests of individual persons worldwide. Objections of the second sort reject it as inadequately attentive to the material and economic interests of well-ordered peoples. Throughout the paper I develop several arguments implicit in The Law of Peoples but not well-developed there as well as offer some additional arguments of my own consistent with the spirit of The Law of Peoples and Rawls’s work more generally. I conclude with some brief remarks expressing two worries I have about Rawls’s position – one concerning global public goods, the other concerning the formation of a morally adequate and effective political will within the international context under contemporary conditions. (shrink)
At the center of Rawls’s work post-1980 is the question of how legitimate coercive state action is possible in a liberal democracy under conditions of reasonable disagreement. And at the heart of Rawls’s answer to this question is his liberal principle of legitimacy. In this paper I argue that once we attend carefully to the depth and range of reasonable disagreement, Rawls’s liberal principle of legitimacy turns out to be either wildly utopian or simply toothless, depending on how one reads (...) the ideal of reciprocity it is meant to embody. To remedy this defect in Rawls’s theory, I␣undertake to develop the outlines of a democratic conception of legitimacy, drawing first on Rawls’s generic conception of legitimacy in The Law of Peoples and second on a revised understanding of reciprocity between free and equal citizens. On this revised understanding, what free and equal citizens owe one another is not reciprocity in judgment, but reciprocity of interests. (shrink)
Rawls's "The Law of Peoples" has not been well received. The first task of this essay is to draw (what the author regards as) Rawls's position out of his own text where it is imperfectly and incompletely expressed. Rawls's view, once fully and clearly presented, is less vulnerable to common criticisms than it is often taken to be. The second task of this essay is to go beyond Rawls's text to develop some supplementary lines of argument, still Rawlsian in spirit, (...) to deflect key criticisms made by Rawls's critics. The overall defense given here of Rawls's position draws on a deep theme running throughout all of Rawls's work in political philosophy, namely, that the task of political philosophy is to mark the moral limits given by and through a common human reason, itself socially and historically achieved, within which human nature must develop (and reveal itself over time) if it is to be an expression or manifestation of human freedom. (shrink)
What sorts of reasons are i) required and ii) morally acceptable when citizens in a pluralist liberal democracy undertake to resolve pressing political issues? This paper presents and then critically examines John Rawls''s answer to this question: his so called wide-view of public reason. Rawls''s view requires that the content of liberal public reason prove rich enough to yield a reasoned and determinate resolution for most if not all fundamental political issues. I argue that the content of liberal public reason (...) will prove inadequate in this regard far more often than Rawls suspects. (shrink)