Rawls and racial justice

Politics, Philosophy and Economics 16 (3):235-258 (2017)

Authors
Dale C. Matthew
York University
Abstract
This article discusses the adequacy of Rawls’ theory of justice as a tool for racial justice. It is argued that critics like Charles W Mills fail to appreciate both the insights and limits of the Rawlsian framework. The article has two main parts spread out over several different sections. The first is concerned with whether the Rawlsian framework suffices to prevent racial injustice. It is argued that there are reasons to doubt whether it does. The second part is concerned with whether a Rawlsian framework has the resources to rectify past racial injustice. It is argued that it has more resources to do this than Mills allows. This second part of the article centers on two Rawlsian ideas: ideal theory and the fair equality of opportunity principle. It is argued that ideal theory is essential for the kind of rectificatory work that Mills wants nonideal theory to do, and that where there is a socioeconomic legacy of past injustice, it is hard to see how FEO could be implemented if it did no rectificatory work, a result which means that there is less need to turn to nonideal theory at all.
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DOI 10.1177/1470594x17717736
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References found in this work BETA

Rescuing Justice and Equality.G. A. Cohen (ed.) - 2008 - Harvard University Press.
Political Liberalism.J. Rawls - 1995 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 57 (3):596-598.
Ideal and Nonideal Theory.A. John Simmons - 2010 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 38 (1):5-36.
What Do We Want From a Theory of Justice?Amartya Sen - 2006 - Journal of Philosophy 103 (5):215-238.

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