Self-Realization and the Priority of Fair Equality of Opportunity

Journal of Moral Philosophy 1 (3):333-347 (2004)
Abstract
The lexical priority of fair equality of opportunity in John Rawls’s justice as fairness, which has been sharply criticized by Larry Alexander and Richard Arneson among others, is left almost entirely undefended in Rawls’s works. I argue here that this priority rule can be successfully defended against its critics despite Rawls’s own doubts about it. Using the few textual clues he provides, I speculatively reconstruct his defense of this rule, showing that it can be grounded on our interest in self-realization through work. This reconstructed defense makes liberal use of concepts already present in A Theory of Justice , including the Aristotelian Principle (which motivates the achievement of increasing virtuosity) and the Humboldtian concept of social union (which provides the context for the development of such virtuosity). I also show that this commitment to self-realization, far from violating the priority of right in Rawls’s theory, stems directly from his underlying commitment to autonomy, which is the very foundation of the moral law in his doctrine of right. The reconstituted defense of this priority rule not only strengthens the case for justice as fairness but also has important and controversial implications for public policy.
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DOI 10.1177/174046810400100307
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The Difference Principle at Work.Samuel Arnold - 2012 - Journal of Political Philosophy 20 (1):94-118.
Corporate Institutions in a Weakened Welfare State.Sandrine Blanc & Ismael Al-Amoudi - 2013 - Business Ethics Quarterly 23 (4):497-525.
Sharing in or Benefiting From Scientific Advancement?Cristian Timmermann - 2014 - Science and Engineering Ethics 20 (1):111-133.
Social Epigenetics and Equality of Opportunity.M. Loi, L. Del Savio & E. Stupka - 2013 - Public Health Ethics 6 (2):142-153.

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