Wide ranging and up to date, this is the single most comprehensive treatment of the most influential political philosopher of the 20th century, John Rawls. An unprecedented survey that reflects the surge of Rawls scholarship since his death, and the lively debates that have emerged from his work Features an outstanding list of contributors, including senior as well as “next generation” Rawls scholars Provides careful, textually informed exegesis and well-developed critical commentary across all areas of his work, including non-Rawlsian perspectives (...) Includes discussion of new material, covering Rawls’s work from the newly published undergraduate thesis to the final writings on public reason and the law of peoples Covers Rawls’s moral and political philosophy, his distinctive methodological commitments, and his relationships to the history of moral and political philosophy and to jurisprudence and the social sciences Includes discussion of his monumental 1971 book, _A Theory of Justice_, which is often credited as having revitalized political philosophy. (shrink)
Rawls's "The Law of Peoples" has not been well received. The first task of this essay is to draw (what the author regards as) Rawls's position out of his own text where it is imperfectly and incompletely expressed. Rawls's view, once fully and clearly presented, is less vulnerable to common criticisms than it is often taken to be. The second task of this essay is to go beyond Rawls's text to develop some supplementary lines of argument, still Rawlsian in spirit, (...) to deflect key criticisms made by Rawls's critics. The overall defense given here of Rawls's position draws on a deep theme running throughout all of Rawls's work in political philosophy, namely, that the task of political philosophy is to mark the moral limits given by and through a common human reason, itself socially and historically achieved, within which human nature must develop (and reveal itself over time) if it is to be an expression or manifestation of human freedom. (shrink)
What sorts of reasons are i) required and ii) morally acceptable when citizens in a pluralist liberal democracy undertake to resolve pressing political issues? This paper presents and then critically examines John Rawls''s answer to this question: his so called wide-view of public reason. Rawls''s view requires that the content of liberal public reason prove rich enough to yield a reasoned and determinate resolution for most if not all fundamental political issues. I argue that the content of liberal public reason (...) will prove inadequate in this regard far more often than Rawls suspects. (shrink)
In The Law of Peoples, John Rawls does not discuss justice and the global economy at great length or in great detail. What he does say has not been well-received. The prevailing view seems to be that what Rawls says in The Law of Peoples regarding global economic justice is both inconsistent with and a betrayal of his own liberal egalitarian commitments, an unexpected and unacceptable defense of the status quo. This view is, I think, mistaken. Rawls’s position on global (...) or international economic justice is richer, more nuanced, and generally more compelling than his critics have been willing to acknowledge. My aim in this essay is to sympathetically set out, and then defend against two common families of objection to, Rawls’s position on global or international economic justice. Objections of the first sort reject Rawls’s position as inadequately attentive to the material and economic interests of individual persons worldwide. Objections of the second sort reject it as inadequately attentive to the material and economic interests of well-ordered peoples. Throughout the paper I develop several arguments implicit in The Law of Peoples but not well-developed there as well as offer some additional arguments of my own consistent with the spirit of The Law of Peoples and Rawls’s work more generally. I conclude with some brief remarks expressing two worries I have about Rawls’s position – one concerning global public goods, the other concerning the formation of a morally adequate and effective political will within the international context under contemporary conditions. (shrink)
John Rawls is widely regarded as one of the most influential philosophers of the twentieth century, and his work has permanently shaped the nature and terms of moral and political philosophy, deploying a robust and specialized vocabulary that reaches beyond philosophy to political science, economics, sociology, and law. This volume is a complete and accessible guide to Rawls' vocabulary, with over 200 alphabetical encyclopaedic entries written by the world's leading Rawls scholars. From 'basic structure' to 'burdened society', from 'Sidgwick' to (...) 'strains of commitment', and from 'Nash point' to 'natural duties', the volume covers the entirety of Rawls' central ideas and terminology, with illuminating detail and careful cross-referencing. It will be an essential resource for students and scholars of Rawls, as well as for other readers in political philosophy, ethics, political science, sociology, international relations and law. (shrink)
At the center of Rawls’s work post-1980 is the question of how legitimate coercive state action is possible in a liberal democracy under conditions of reasonable disagreement. And at the heart of Rawls’s answer to this question is his liberal principle of legitimacy. In this paper I argue that once we attend carefully to the depth and range of reasonable disagreement, Rawls’s liberal principle of legitimacy turns out to be either wildly utopian or simply toothless, depending on how one reads (...) the ideal of reciprocity it is meant to embody. To remedy this defect in Rawls’s theory, I␣undertake to develop the outlines of a democratic conception of legitimacy, drawing first on Rawls’s generic conception of legitimacy in The Law of Peoples and second on a revised understanding of reciprocity between free and equal citizens. On this revised understanding, what free and equal citizens owe one another is not reciprocity in judgment, but reciprocity of interests. (shrink)
This article begins by clarifying and noting various limitations on the universal reach of the human right to health care under positive international law. It then argues that irrespective of the human right to health care established by positive international law, any system of positive international law capable of generating legal duties with prima facie moral force necessarily presupposes a universal moral human right to health care. But the language used in contemporary human rights documents or human rights advocacy is (...) not a good guide to the content of this rather more modest universal moral human right to health care. The conclusion reached is that when addressing issues of justice as they inevitably arise with respect to health policy and health care, both within and between states, there is typically little to gain and much to risk by framing deliberation in terms of the human right to health care. (shrink)
Driven by a sharp increase in claims for reparations, reparative justice has become a topic of academic debate. To some extent this debate has been marred by a failure to realize the complexity of reparative justice. In this essay we try to amend this shortcoming. We do this by developing a taxonomy of different kinds of wrongs that can underwrite claims to reparations. We identify four kinds of wrongs: entitlement violations, unjust exclusions from an otherwise acceptable system of entitlements, and (...) two kinds where a social practice systematically fails to embody an acceptable system of entitlements. In deliberation about what is required to repair a historical injustice the weight of backward- and forward-looking considerations is a function of the distinctive features of the injustice in question. Hence, the first step in adjudicating claims for reparation is to identify what kind of wrong the claim arises from. From the taxonomy of wrongs we are thus able to construct what we call the Field of Reparative Justice, which illustrates how the structure of deliberation for reparative justice tracks the distinctive features of different kinds of wrongs. (shrink)
The recent posthumous publication of John Rawls's undergraduate thesis 'A Brief Inquiry Into the Meaning of Sin and Faith: An Interpretation Based on the Concept of Community' constitutes a welcome opportunity to examine the relationships between Rawls's religious commitments and his political philosophy. In this essay, informed by a complete examination of Rawls's archived papers at Harvard, I set out some of these commitments, trace their development over time, and indicate some of the ways they find expression in Rawls's political (...) thought. In the 1990s Rawls characterized his life's work as addressed to a question 'essentially religious in nature': Can human nature be redeemed? It is perhaps, then, no surprise that reading his work against the background of his, eventually non-theistic, religious commitments and concerns helpfully casts it in a new light. (shrink)
This is an encyclopedia entry (for the IVR Encyclopedia of legal and political philosophy) covering John Rawls. It aims to provide a general but not superficial introduction to Rawls's theory of justice, justice as fairness.
The chapters in this volume deal with timely issues regarding democracy in theory and in practice in today's globalized world. Authored by leading political philosophers of our time, they appear here for the first time. The essays challenge and defend assumptions about the role of democracy as a viable political and legal institution in response to globalization, keeping in focus the role of rights at the normative foundations of democracy in a pluralistic world.
The United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. A burgeoning human rights movement followed, yielding many treaties and new international institutions and shaping the constitutions and laws of many states. Yet human rights continue to be contested politically and legally and there is substantial philosophical and theoretical debate over their foundations and implications. In this volume, distinguished philosophers, political scientists, international lawyers, environmentalists and anthropologists discuss some of the most difficult questions of human rights (...) theory and practice: what do human rights require of the global economy? Does it make sense to secure them by force? What do they require in jus post bello contexts of transitional justice? Is global climate change a human rights issue? Is there a human right to democracy? Does the human rights movement constitute moral progress? For students of political philosophy, human rights, peace studies and international relations. (shrink)
This paper examines the general neutrality principle of Rawls’ liberalism and then tests that principle against accommodationist intuitions and sympathies in cases concerning the non-neutral effects of a system of compulsory education on particular social groups.
A signal feature of legal and political institutions is that they exercise coercive power. The essays in this volume examine institutional coercion with the aim of trying to understand its nature, justification and limits. Included are essays that take a fresh look at perennial questions. Leading scholars from philosophy, political science and law examine these and related questions shedding new light on an apparently inescapable feature of political and legal life: Coercion.
The United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. A burgeoning human rights movement followed, yielding many treaties and new international institutions and shaping the constitutions and laws of many states. Yet human rights continue to be contested politically and legally and there is substantial philosophical and theoretical debate over their foundations and implications. In this volume distinguished philosophers, political scientists, international lawyers, environmentalists and anthropologists discuss some of the most difficult questions of human rights (...) theory and practice: What do human rights require of the global economy? Does it make sense to secure them by force? What do they require in jus post bello contexts of transitional justice? Is global climate change a human rights issue? Is there a human right to democracy? Does the human rights movement constitute moral progress? For students of political philosophy, human rights, peace studies, and international relations. (shrink)
Universal Human Rights brings new clarity to the important and highly contested concept of universal human rights. This collection of essays explores the foundations of universal human rights in four sections devoted to their nature, application, enforcement, and limits, concluding that shared rights help to constitute a universal human community, which supports local customs and separate state sovereignty. The eleven contributors to this volume demonstrate from their very different perspectives how human rights can help to bring moral order to an (...) otherwise divided world. (shrink)
Distinguishes and shows how one can coherently affirm distinct human rights agendas rooted in distinct conceptions of human rights, each with its own normative aim and institutional and discursive field of application.
This is the introduction to the Ashgate volume on Rawls in their history of political thought series. It puts Rawls's life and work in context and then discusses the essays included in the volume, essays of high quality likely to shape scholarship on Rawls for the coming decades.
In this paper I distinguish between three conceptions of human rights and thus three human rights agendas. Each is compatible with the others, but distinguishing each from the others has important theoretical and practical advantages. The first conception concerns those human rights tied to natural duties binding all persons to one another independent of and prior to any institutional context and the violation of which would “shock the conscience” of any morally competent person. The second concerns the institutional conditions necessary (...) and sufficient for particularist legal and political obligations to take on prima facie moral force so that the members of different polities face one another in an asymmetric moral relationship, with each side having a rightful claim to political self-determination. The third concerns those human rights arising exclusively as a matter of positive international law out of the voluntary undertakings of legitimate polities within the international order. Each of these different conceptions is tied to a different human rights agenda. The second is tied to the struggle to realize recognitional norms of legitimacy within the international order. The third is tied to the ongoing effort to incorporate into positive international law through voluntary initiative an ever expanding moral consensus between legitimate polities. The first is tied to the emerging practice of humanitarian intervention and system of international criminal liability. Thus, while all human rights share certain features – they’re universal, and so on – human rights differ in important ways. Attending to these differences would likely improve both the theory and practice of human rights. (shrink)
In this review essay, I first set out and then subject to criticism the main claims advanced by William Talbott in his excellent recent book, “Which Rights Should be Universal?”. Talbott offers a conception of basic universal human rights as the minimally necessary and sufficient conditions to political legitimacy. I argue that his conception is at once too robustly liberal and democratic and too inattentive to key features of the rule of law to play this role. I suggest that John (...) Rawls’s conception of human rights comes closer to hitting the mark Talbott sets for himself and that Talbott incorrectly rejects Rawls’s view. I conclude that what likely divides Talbott and Rawls is that Rawls, but not Talbott, explicitly frames the inquiry into the minimally necessary and sufficient conditions to political legitimacy in terms of a liberal democratic people attempting to determine, as a matter of its just foreign policy, whether or not to recognize other organized polities as independent and self-determining within the international order. (shrink)
In Globalization and Justice, Kai Nielsen brings his distinctive and passionate voice and considerable philosophical abilities to one of the pressing issues of our time: Is justice possible in our increasingly globalized world? Nielsen argues that it is, though the demands of justice are great, the challenges substantial, and the odds very long. Without a clear philosophical understanding of justice and a firm and focused political will, Nielsen maintains, we are likely to have globalization without justice. This is surely correct.