The Unwritten Theory of Justice: Rawlsian Liberalism Versus Libertarianism
Barbara H. Fried
Stanford Law School
November 1, 2011
THE BLACKWELL COMPANION TO RAWLS, Jon Mandle and David Reidy, eds., Blackwell, 2012, Forthcoming
Stanford Public Law Working Paper No. 1957828
When A Theory of Justice was published in 1971, utilitarianism was the game to beat in political philosophy, and Rawls made clear his intention to beat it. The appearance of Nozick’s Anarchy, State and Utopia three years later singlehandedly enshrined libertarianism rather than utilitarianism in the popular imagination as the chief rival to Rawls’s two principles of justice. Ever since, Rawlsian liberalism has had two parallel lives in political theory. The first - the version Rawls wrote - is a response to utilitarian’s failure to take seriously the separateness of persons. The second - the unwritten version ‘received’ by its general audience - is a response to libertarianism’s failure to take seriously our moral obligations to the well-being of our fellow citizens. This article considers how, had he written the second version, Rawls might have dealt with libertarians’ critique of ‘justice as fairness’ as fundamentally illiberal, and how his two principles might have been transformed in the process.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 40
Date posted: November 11, 2011 ; Last revised: October 18, 2012
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