European Journal of Philosophy 26 (1):213-237 (2018)
AbstractTo be a liberal is, among other things, to grant basic liberties some degree of priority over other aspects of justice. But why do basic liberties warrant this special treatment? For Rawls, the answer has to do with the allegedly special connection between these freedoms and the ‘two moral powers’ of reasonableness and rationality. Basic freedoms are said to be preconditions for the development and exercise of these powers and are held to warrant priority over other justice-relevant values for that reason. In the first half of the article I mount an internal critique of this Rawlsian line, arguing that it is flawed in two main ways. First, it overestimates the contribution of basic freedom to moral personality. Second, it underestimates the contribution of non-liberty resources to moral personality. In the second half of the article I repair these flaws. The result is a new, intriguingly radical version of justice as fairness, one with surprising—yet plausible—implications for economic and gender justice.
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