Beyond the Difference Principle: Rawlsian Justice, Business Ethics, and the Morality of the Market

33 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2018

See all articles by Matt Zwolinski

Matt Zwolinski

University of San Diego; University of San Diego School of Law

Date Written: March 1, 2017

Abstract

The philosophical work of John Rawls has had a tremendous influence on contemporary business ethics. But that influence has been limited to a relatively narrow portion of Rawls’ ideas. Business ethics textbooks and journal articles focus much more heavily on Rawls’ Theory of Justice than they do his more mature Political Liberalism. And even within the former book, they focus almost entirely on Rawls’s discussion of the original position and the two principles of justice. This narrowness of focus has resulted in a tendency either to misunderstand the implications of the full range of Rawlsian ideas for questions about the regulation and possible public ownership of business, or to accept uncritically Rawls’s own barely defended assumptions about those implications. Rawlsian thought, this chapter concludes, is not as hostile to the institutions of private property and market processes as Rawls’s critics, and sometimes his followers, have suggested. But neither is it as hospitable to them as its own principles suggest it should be.

Keywords: John Rawls, Liberalism, Property Rights, Property Owning Democracy, Libertarianism, Markets, Difference Principle, Pluralism, Business Ethics

Suggested Citation

Zwolinski, Matt, Beyond the Difference Principle: Rawlsian Justice, Business Ethics, and the Morality of the Market (March 1, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3104859 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3104859

Matt Zwolinski (Contact Author)

University of San Diego ( email )

5998 Alcala Park
San Diego, CA 92110-2492
United States
619-260-4094 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.sandiego.edu/~mzwolinski

University of San Diego School of Law ( email )

5998 Alcala Park
San Diego, CA 92110-2492
United States

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