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RAWLS 2 CRITIQUES OF RAWLS
John Rawls 1921-2002 One role of political philosophy: “to calm our frustration and rage against our society and its history by showing us the way in which its institutions… are rational, and developed over time as they did to attain their present, rational form.” Justice as Fairness p. 3
Critique from the RIGHT “The” Right: libertarians, capitalists, free-marketeers… Rawls is overly egalitarian [cf. Nietzsche]. In his own words, he seeks “a conception of justice that nullifies the accidents of natural endowment and the contingencies of social circumstance” 602
Critique from the RIGHT Robert Nozick (libertarian): Wilt Chamberlain example If people were placed in state of ideal equality, they would freely —and justly— return to a state of inequality.
Critique from the RIGHT Jan Narveson (libertarian) Concept of right as a three place relationship: A has the right to B at the expense of C
Critique from the LEFT “The” Left: Marxists, socialists, egalitarians... Rawls merely defends the status quo of “liberal” capitalism. In his own words, he seeks a system which will “draw forth the willing cooperation of everyone taking part in it, including those less well situated” even though the “difference principle” protects “those better [naturally] endowed, or more fortunate in their social position, neither of which we can be said to deserve.” 602
Critique from the LEFT 1. Robert Paul Wolff, “analytical Marxist”: equality is moral imperative 2. “Jerry” Cohen: difference principle increases rich-poor gap. 3. Value (vs. fact) of basic rights greater for rich than for poor.
RIGHT versus LEFT Rawls aims to balance Liberalism Egalitarianism LIBERALISM Right, freedom, master morality EGALITARIANISM Left, equality, slave morality SO criticism from both sides expected?
FEMINIST critiques Rawls ignores the special injustices, rights and responsibilities associated with gender. [Rawls speaks of “men” rather than people.] Susan Okin: nuclear family systematically burdens women and keeps them out of the market.
Diversity critiques: Rawls abstracts human beings from their actual identities in ethnicity, religion, language, culture, (dis)ability, etc.
Diversity critiques: a response Rawls begins with the fact that people have different benefits and burdens (both natural and social), as well as different religions, conceptions of good, etc. YET he aims to find the common human reason and values which would justify political union.
Common Human Reason [?] “ Our exercise of political power is fully proper only when it is exercised in accordance with a constitution the essentials of which all citizens as free and equal may reasonably be expected to endorse in the light of principles and ideals acceptable to their common human reason.” Political Liberalism, p.137