Rawls' Paradox

Constitutional Political Economy 18:287-299 (2007)
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Abstract

Rawls’ theory of justice is paradoxical, for it requires a society to aim directly to maximize the basic goods received by the least advantaged even if directly aiming is self-defeating. Rawls’ reasons for rejecting capitalist systems commit him to holding that a society must not merely maximize the goods received by the least advantaged, but must do so via specific institutions. By Rawls’ own premises, in the long run directly aiming to satisfy the difference principle is contrary to the interests of the poor, though it is meant to aid them.

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Jason Brennan
Georgetown University

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