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Reciprocity as Mutual Recognition

The Good Society 21(1): 21-35

Posted: 11 Jan 2013  

Thom Brooks

Durham University

Date Written: January 10, 2013


For Rawls, there is an important difference between competing forms of regimes and what he calls a "property-owning democracy" and "liberal socialism." This difference includes that only the latter best guarantees principles of justice and satisfies the criterion of reciprocity. In this article, I will focus on the importance of reciprocity for this account and what it reveals about the citizens found in property-owning democracies and liberal socialist regimes. These regimes do not merely correctly recognize and uphold the importance of central principles of justice, but they also correctly recognize each other in an identity-forming way. These citizens mutually recognize one another as free and equal, but also they identify with others in a common bond of citizenship. Rawlsian justice is more than about principles and reciprocity; it is also about mutual recognition and shared identity. This becomes clearer when we look to the reasons why Rawls favors some regimes over others.

Keywords: Rawls, recognition, reciprocity, property-owning democracy, democracy, liberalism, liberal socialism, justice, distributive justice, equality, egalitarianism

JEL Classification: K00

Suggested Citation

Brooks, Thom, Reciprocity as Mutual Recognition (January 10, 2013). The Good Society 21(1): 21-35. Available at SSRN:

Thom Brooks (Contact Author)

Durham University ( email )

Durham Law School
Durham University
Durham, County Durham DH1 3ET
United Kingdom
+441913344365 (Phone)


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