Liberal Foreign Policy and the Ideal of Fair Social Cooperation

Journal of Social Philosophy 44 (3):291-308 (2013)
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In The Law of Peoples Rawls claims that liberal well-ordered societies (LWOSs) should regard certain non-liberal societies, decent hierarchical societies (DHSs), as equal members of a just international order, a ‘Society of Peoples.’ Rawls maintains, however, that while the ‘basic structures’ (the main political and economic institutions) of LWOSs are fair systems of social cooperation, the basic structures of DHSs are only ‘decent’ systems of social cooperation. I explain why the basic structures of DHSs cannot be fair systems of social cooperation. In doing so, I refute a recent defense of DHSs advanced by Samuel Freeman. I then argue that because the basic structures of DHSs cannot be fair systems of social cooperation, Rawls is not justified in holding that LWOSs should refrain always from offering economic incentives to DHSs in order to encourage them to liberalize their political institutions. The ultimate aim of the foreign policies of LWOSs should be a world in which liberal democratic rights are respected by all societies.



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Blain Neufeld
University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

Citations of this work

In or Out?Robert Huseby - 2018 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 13 (2).
Rawls on International Economic Justice in The Law of Peoples.Rex Martin - 2015 - Journal of Business Ethics 127 (4):743-759.

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References found in this work

Justice as Fairness: A Restatement.John Rawls (ed.) - 2001 - Harvard University Press.
The Law of Peoples.John Rawls - 1993 - Critical Inquiry 20 (1):36-68.
Ideal and Nonideal Theory.A. John Simmons - 2010 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 38 (1):5-36.

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