Rawlsian Liberalism, Justice for the Worst Off, and the Limited Capacity of Political Institutions

Sophia 55 (2):215-236 (2016)
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Abstract

This article argues that Rawlsian liberal political institutions are incapable of ensuring that the basic welfare needs of the worst off are met. This argument consists of two steps. First, I show that institutions are incapable of ensuring that the basic needs of the worst off are met without pursuing certain non-taxation-based courses of action that are designed to alter the work choices of citizens. Second, I argue that such actions are not permissible for Rawlsian institutions. It follows that a state governed by a Rawls-type political conception of justice is parasitic on the willingness of citizens to be sufficiently motivated by concern for the worst off, but it cannot require or even encourage them to be so motivated.

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Ben Cross
Wuhan University'

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References found in this work

Justice as fairness: a restatement.John Rawls (ed.) - 2001 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Rescuing Justice and Equality.G. A. Cohen (ed.) - 2008 - Harvard University Press.
Political Liberalism.J. Rawls - 1995 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 57 (3):596-598.
Rescuing Justice and Equality.G. A. Cohen - 2008 - Harvard University Press.

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