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Foundations of a Nonideal Theory of Justice

52 Pages Posted: 16 Sep 2010 Last revised: 1 Aug 2014

Marcus Arvan

University of Tampa

Date Written: August 11, 2011


This paper systematically extends John Rawls' original position to nonideal theory, showing how parties to a "nonideal original position" ought to prioritize four "nonideal primary goods" over Rawls' principles and priority relations, and then agree to five lexically ordered principles of nonideal theory for distributing those goods. Finally, these five principles are shown to fare very well in reflective equilibrium, cohering with a number of pretheoretic moral intuitions.

Suggested Citation

Arvan, Marcus, Foundations of a Nonideal Theory of Justice (August 11, 2011). Available at SSRN: or

Marcus Arvan (Contact Author)

University of Tampa ( email )

401 W. Kennedy Blvd.
Tampa, FL 33606-1490
United States
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