Justice: Metaphysical, After All? [Book Review]

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 14 (2):207-222 (2011)
Political liberals, following Rawls, believe that justice should be ‘political’ rather than ‘metaphysical.’ In other words, a conception of justice ought to be freestanding from first-order moral and metaethical views. The reason for this is to ensure that the state’s coercion be justified to citizens in terms that meet political liberalism’s principle of legitimacy. I suggest that privileging a political conception of justice involves costs—such as forgoing the opportunity for political theory to learn from other areas of philosophy. I argue that it is not clear that it provides any benefit in return. Whether a political conception of justice more adequately satisfies the liberal principle of legitimacy than a metaphysical conception of justice is an open question. To show this, I describe three ways in which political conceptions of justice have been developed within the literature. I then argue that while each might be helpful in finding reasons that reasonable citizens can accept, all face challenges in satisfying the liberal principle of legitimacy. Political conceptions of justice confront the same set of justificatory problems as ‘metaphysical’ conceptions. The question of whether a political conception is preferable should receive greater scrutiny
Keywords Political liberalism  Rawls  Freestanding  Justice  Public reason
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10677-010-9234-y
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
Edit this record
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Mark as duplicate
Request removal from index
Revision history
Download options
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 29,472
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
The Sources of Normativity.Christine M. Korsgaard - 1996 - Cambridge University Press.
Creating the Kingdom of Ends.Christine M. Korsgaard - 2012 - Cambridge University Press.
Political Liberalism.John Rawls - 1993 - Columbia University Press.
Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford University Press.

View all 38 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
The Coherence of Rawls's Plea for Democratic Equality.Percy B. Lehning - 1998 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 1 (4):1-41.
Justice, Legitimacy, and (Normative) Authority for Political Realists.Enzo Rossi - 2012 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 15 (2):149-164.
Criminal Justice and the Liberal Polity.Jonathan Jacobs - 2011 - Criminal Justice Ethics 30 (2):173-191.
“Political, Not Metaphysical”.James W. Boettcher - 2003 - Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 77:205-219.
Political Egalitarianism.Joseph Heath - 2008 - Social Theory and Practice 34 (4):485-516.
Added to PP index

Total downloads
95 ( #57,444 of 2,210,860 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #356,854 of 2,210,860 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads
My notes
Sign in to use this feature