The Rawlsian legacy and the problem of social criticism

The aim of this paper is to explore and question the potential of John Rawls’s theory of social justice as a tool for building a critical theory of society. My claim will be that Rawls’s approach to social theory cannot provide such a tool; as it will turn out, it faces very deep problems when faced with the task becoming a critical theory of society. Such problems originate mainly in the cognitive and epistemic structure of the “original position”. This, I believe, is bound to pose problems in the future for those of us who seek to make a politically radical use of the legacy of Rawlsian theory (see, e.g., Van Parijs, 1995 or Callinicos, 2000). By a critical theory of society, I mean a theory which aims not at describing the social world “as it is” in order to explain or understand it, but at describing the social world in such a way that the description itself triggers forces for social change within the social world being described. This is, indeed, the meaning of “critical”: to describe a state of affairs in such a way as to throw it into crisis by that very..
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Translate to english
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 47,182
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

Political Liberalism.J. Rawls - 1995 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 57 (3):596-598.
If You're an Egalitarian, How Come You're So Rich?G. A. Cohen - 2000 - Philosophical Quarterly 51 (205):563-565.
Real Freedom for All: What Can Justify Capitalism.Philippe van Parijs - 1995 - Philosophical Quarterly 48 (192):394-396.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Rawlsian Justice.Fabienne Peter - 2009 - In Paul Anand, Prastanta Pattanaik & Clemens Puppe (eds.), Handbook of Rational and Social Choice. Oxford University Press. pp. 433--456.
The Structure of a Rawlsian Theory of Just Work.Lars Lindblom - 2011 - Journal of Business Ethics 101 (4):577-599.
Society, Nature, and Critical Theory.H. C. Greisman - 1976 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 4 (2):123-138.
Rethinking the Critique of Instrumental Reason.Roger Foster - 2006 - Social Philosophy Today 22:169-184.
Communication, Recognition and Politics.Jordy Rocheleau - 2001 - Social Philosophy Today 17:253-263.
Critical Theory Today: Revisiting the Classics.D. Kellner - 1993 - Theory, Culture and Society 10 (2):43-60.
Hermeneutical Generosity and Social Criticism.Ronald Beiner - 1995 - Critical Review 9 (4):447-464.


Added to PP index

Total views
25 ( #378,252 of 2,289,512 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #838,743 of 2,289,512 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes

Sign in to use this feature