The coherence of Rawls's plea for democratic equality

Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 1 (4):1-41 (1998)
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In 1971, John Rawls published A Theory of Justice, the burden of which was strongly egalitarian. But Rawls eventually came to the conclusion that the project of working out a stable, well?ordered society as argued in A Theory of Justice had failed. In 1993, in Political Liberalism, Rawls sought to establish a sounder theoretical foundation for a stable, well?ordered society. Rawls was widely viewed, however, as having given up egalitarianism in Political Liberalism ? the commitment to a fair distribution, or ?justice as fairness?, along lines originally developed in A Theory of Justice. I argue, by contrast, that Political Liberalism does not in fact repudiate the egalitarianism of A Theory of Justice. Political liberalism has many variants, including variant conceptions of justice. In the first part of what follows, the question is raised whether political liberalism can defend a conception of justice that is as egalitarian as ?justice as fairness?. Such a conception would guarantee the fair value of political liberties and would also contain the so?called ?difference principal?, which states that social and economic inequalities are to be adjusted so that they are to the greatest benefit of the least advantaged. Although it seems possible to defend such an egalitarian conception of justice, it does not seem necessary, all the same, that all variants of political liberalism should be as egalitarian as justice as fairness. Thus, in the second part of my argument, I seek to overturn, or at least substantially to qualify, the idea that there is no need for political liberalism to be strongly egalitarian. I conclude that the egalitarian credentials of political liberalism have to be bolstered, even more so than Rawls himself seems to think



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Citations of this work

European Citizenship: Towards a European Identity?Percy B. Lehning - 2001 - Law and Philosophy 20 (3):239-282.
South Africa and the prospect of political liberalism.Stephen De Wijze - 1999 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 2 (3):48-80.

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References found in this work

Political Liberalism.J. Rawls - 1995 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 57 (3):596-598.
Equality and Partiality.Thomas Nagel - 1991 - New York, US: OUP Usa. Edited by Louis P. Pojman & Robert Westmoreland.
What is equality? Part 2: Equality of resources.Ronald Dworkin - 1981 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 10 (4):283 - 345.
Equality and equal opportunity for welfare.Richard J. Arneson - 1989 - Philosophical Studies 56 (1):77 - 93.

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