Essays in Philosophy 9 (1):55-76 (2008)
AbstractI aim to identify and describe some basic elements of a Rawlsian approach that may help us to think conscientiously about how, from the standpoint of justice, we should treat the disabled. Rawls has been criticized for largely ignoring issues of this sort. These criticisms lose their appeal, I suggest, when we distinguish between a Rawlsian standpoint and the limited project Rawls mainly undertakes in A Theory of Justice. There his explicit aim is to find principles of justice, which are to govern the basic structures of a closed, well-ordered society that exists under reasonably favorable conditions, that would be chosen by parties in the original position from among a small set of traditional conceptions of justice. Once we develop a conception of justice for a society like that, Rawlsians hope we can make certain revisions to find principles of justice for a society like ours. Finally, I sketch what seems to me a plausible way for a Rawlsian to begin thinking about how a society like ours should provide justice for its disabled citizens.
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