Rawls, self-respect, and assurance: How past injustice changes what publicly counts as justice

Timothy Waligore
Pace University
This article adapts John Rawls’s writings, arguing that past injustice can change what we ought to publicly affirm as the standard of justice today. My approach differs from forward-looking approaches based on alleviating prospective disadvantage and backward-looking historical entitlement approaches. In different contexts, Rawls’s own concern for the ‘social bases of self-respect’ and equal citizenship may require public endorsement of different principles or specifications of the standard of justice. Rawls’s difference principle focuses on the least advantaged socioeconomic group. I argue that a historicized difference principle considers the relative standing of racial, gender, and other historically stigmatized groups; provides their members assurance by weakening incentives to manipulate justice to another group’s advantage; and may result in policies resembling reparations, though justified by forward-looking considerations of self-respect and public assurance. I then examine how disrespectful justifications were historically used to forcibly include indigenous peoples as citizens. While Rawls thinks providing citizens one package of basic liberties signals respect, indigenous self-government could better support self-respect. I invoke Rawlsian international justice, which calls for mutual respect between peoples. Indigenous peoples’ status should reflect their past and persisting peoplehood, providing assurance by weakening incentives to unjustly transform international into domestic contexts.
Keywords Historical Injustice  Self-respect  Rawls  reparations  Indigenous Peoples  Racial Justice  Difference Principle  Historic Injustice  Slavery  Political Theory
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1177/1470594X15599100
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Rescuing Justice and Equality.G. A. Cohen (ed.) - 2008 - Harvard University Press.
World Poverty and Human Rights.Thomas Pogge - 2002 - Ethics and International Affairs 19 (1):1-7.
Multicultural Citizenship.Will Kymlicka - 1995 - oxford university press.
Political Liberalism.J. Rawls - 1995 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 57 (3):596-598.

View all 43 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Rawls and Racial Justice.D. C. Matthew - 2017 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 16 (3):235-258.
Real Self-Respect and its Social Bases.Christian Schemmel - forthcoming - Canadian Journal of Philosophy:1-24.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Incentives, Inequality and Self-Respect.Richard Penny - 2013 - Res Publica 19 (4):335-351.
The Place of Self‐Respect in a Theory of Justice.Gerald Doppelt - 2009 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 52 (2):127 – 154.
Civic Respect, Political Liberalism, and Non-Liberal Societies.Blain Neufeld - 2005 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 4 (3):275-299.
Rawls on the Practicability of Utilitarianism.Ivar Labukt - 2009 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 8 (2):201-221.
Respect and Types of Injustice.Faith Armitage - 2006 - Res Publica 12 (1):9-34.
Rawls, Self-Respect, and the Opportunity for Meaningful Work.Jeffrey Moriarty - 2009 - Social Theory and Practice 35 (3):441-459.
Political Liberalism, Constructivism, and Global Justice.Alexander Kaufman - 2013 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 10 (5):621-1.
Self-Respect and Justice.Robin Sleigh Dillon - 1987 - Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh
Rawls on Liberty and Domination.M. Victoria Costa - 2009 - Res Publica 15 (4):397-413.
Rawls and Natural Justice.Dong Jin Jang - 2008 - Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 29:31-43.


Added to PP index

Total views
90 ( #83,117 of 2,237,141 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
31 ( #20,698 of 2,237,141 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes

Sign in to use this feature