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http://ssrn.com/abstract=1957828
 
 

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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

Abstract:     
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.

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Date posted: November 11, 2011 ; Last revised: October 18, 2012

Suggested Citation

Fried, Barbara H., The Unwritten Theory of Justice: Rawlsian Liberalism Versus Libertarianism (November 1, 2011). THE BLACKWELL COMPANION TO RAWLS, Jon Mandle and David Reidy, eds., Blackwell, 2012, Forthcoming; Stanford Public Law Working Paper No. 1957828. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1957828

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Barbara H. Fried (Contact Author)
Stanford Law School ( email )
559 Nathan Abbott Way
Crown Quadrangle
Stanford, CA 94305-8610
United States
650-723-2499 (Phone)
650-725-0253 (Fax)
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