Iasi: Institutul European (2016)
AbstractThe volume aims to clarify and argue in support of the distinction between ideal and nonideal theory, as it is defined and used especially by (some of) the political philosophers working on the topic of social justice. In the process of trying to achieve this aim, the volume proposes, as well, a series of analyses concerning the other major problem raised by the ideal-nonideal distinction in political theory: the problem of the soundness of ideal theory as a method of specifying the concept of justice and/or as a guide for political action, institutions and policies. Except for the foreword (which sets its scene and explorative framework) and the afterword (which concludes its argumentative approach and reminds some of its key explanations and observations), the volume is organized in three chapters. The first chapter discusses John Rawls` view on the distinction between ideal and nonideal theory. Its basic intention is to clarify, assess and synthetize the main claims and theses specific to the Rawlsian outlook. This analysis is followed, in the second chapter, by an investigation of the main post-Rawlsian contributions to the project of clarifying the ideal-nonideal distinction in theorizing justice. The third chapter rejects the claim according to which the distinction between ideal and nonideal theory is unjustified or, at least, not categorical. Based on its argumentative and explanatory undertaking, the book proposes the following simple definition of the ideal-nonideal distinction in theorizing justice: ideal theory is the theory aiming to offer an (adequate) answer to the question “what is social justice?”. In other words, ideal theory is the theory of defining or specifying the concept of social justice. Nonideal theory is, instead, the area of academic research interested in answering (and bound to answer) all the other imperative questions about justice and injustice: „is social justice an achievable ideal here and now?”, „which are the best policies in correcting or mitigating the current social injustices?”, „which is the most appropriate strategy for achieving the institutional design that best realizes the principles of justice?”, „in what way are the duties of justice affected when the others fail to conform to these duties?”, „which are the requirements of retributive justice?” or „which are the principles of rectificatory justice?”.
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