Saturday, November 19, 2011

Paper on Rawlsian Liberalism Versus Libertarianism

Barbara H. Fried (Stanford Law School) has posted a new paper on SSRN:

"The Unwritten Theory of Justice: Rawlsian Liberalism Versus Libertarianism".

Forthcoming in Jon Mandle and David Reidy (eds.) - "The Blackwell Companion to Rawls" (Blackwell, 2012).

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.

Barbara F. Fried is Professor of Law at Standford Law School, Stanford University.

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