This article argues that John Rawls' liberal philosophising is an inadequate means of facing today's varied social and political challenges, both domestic and international, because it is incapable of grasping the antagonistic dimension which is constitutive of the political. Focusing first on Rawls' conception of politics in a well-ordered liberal society, and thereafter on his arguments pertaining to the field of international politics, it is shown how Rawls forecloses the recognition of the properly political moment by postulating that the discrimination between what is legitimate and what is not legitimate is dictated by morality and rationality. With exclusions presented as rationally justified and with the antagonistic dimension of politics whisked away, liberalism appears as the truly moral and rational solution to the problem of how to organise human coexistence, and its universalisation becomes the aim of all those who are moved by moral and rational considerations. Against this conception, it is suggested that a future, more peaceful world would be less a cosmopolitan and more a pluralist one.
Where Does He Leave Us?
R. Bruce Douglass
John Rawls is widely thought to have revitalised political philosophy. This paper discusses that claim critically in the light of Rawls' own characterisation of his project as well as a series of objections that have been raised by critics from diverse points of view. It concludes that the criticisms advanced by the authors in question help to clarify what exactly Rawls accomplished. He did revitalise liberal political philosophy, but in a manner that lacks much of the traditional substance of political philosophy. The paper concludes by discussing the significance of this finding and its implications for the future of political philosophy.
It is well known that through his conception of justice as fairness, Rawls sought to reconcile the values of liberty and equality that some had considered at odds with each other. By contrast, he hardly said anything about the other grand
The Uneasy Case of Salvation Religions
William A. Edmundson
cannot. But, I will argue, it is a mistake to think so. John Rawls 1 struggled with the problem. “How is it possible for those affirming a religious doctrine that is based on religious authority, for example, the Church or the Bible, also to hold a
In his 1993 Oxford Amnesty Lecture, John Rawls attempts to respond to some of the criticisms his theory of justice has received from those concerned with the international aspects of social justice, and in particular with universal human rights. Rawls takes what he refers to as the ‘law of peoples’ as the focus for his discussion. He claims that a general liberal theory of justice may be extended internationally and form the basis for a universally recognised basic human rights minimum. Additionally, Rawls suggests that this scheme of international justice is an improvement on other liberal theories dealing with human rights because, he concludes, it would be acceptable to nonliberal, non-Western societies as well as to liberal, Western societies.
What is justice all about? What is the scope of the concept of justice? What are the issues that can legitimately be discussed and evaluated in terms of justice? In her book Justice and the Politics of Difference, Iris Marion Young challenges the theory of justice developed by John Rawls and responded to by many political theorists in the philosophical debate generated by Rawls’s book, A Theory of Justice (1971). Young objects to the emphasis on matters of distributive justice and finds the use of the metaphor of distribution too restrictive when applied to nondistributive issues. She wants to widen the scope of the concept of justice to include topics like decision making, culture, and the division of labour.
A Critique of Rawls
Susan Stedman Jones
Durkheim's account of the categories is re-examined, in a critique of the fundamentally mistaken and philosophically uninformed interpretation put forward in Rawls's Epistemology and Practice (2004). This converts Durkheim into a pragmatist, even a behaviourist, more or less reducing conscience to an epiphenomenon of sounds, movements, and socially generated raw emotions. She bypasses the key role of representations and symbols, while her emphasis on collective 'forces' ignores Durkheim's concern with power as puissance and with the creativity of an effervescent fusion of energies. Thus action is central to his account of the categories, but not in the terms offered by Rawls. For action involves the full range of the functions of conscience. And these come into play through the power of representations and symbols, as an integral part of a whole creative fusion of energies and consciences in the 'dynamogenics' of collective action.
A Religious yet Public Case for Welcoming Refugees
appears particularly strongly in the recent debate on public reason. Following John Rawls, liberals have argued that religious reasons should be excluded from public reason because they are based on premises that not all citizens can accept ( Audi 2011
This essay explores two largely distinct discussions about equality: the 'luck egalitarian' debate concerning the appropriate metric of equality and the 'equality and difference' debate which has focused on the need for egalitarianism to consider the underlying norms in light of which the abstract principle to 'treat equals equally' operates. In the end, both of these discussions point to the importance of political equality for egalitarianism more generally and, in the concluding section, an attempt is made to show how the ideal of 'equal concern and respect' might best be pursued given the results of these important discussions.
Rawls, the Fair Value of the Basic Political Liberties, and the Collapse of the Distinction Between ‘Ideal’ and ‘Nonideal’ Theory
Susan Orr and James Johnson
resultant ideals. John Rawls exemplifies this approach. He elaborates his conception of ‘justice as fairness’ as an exercise in ‘ideal theory’ and relegates practical concerns with matters of compliance and implementation to the domain of ‘nonideal theory