Thursday, March 23, 2023

Rawls's critique of welfare state capitalism

Catherine Audard has written a new paper on John Rawls and the fight against structural injustices:

"Addressing the rise of inequalities: How relevant is Rawls's critique of welfare state capitalism?" (open access)

(forthcoming in "Journal of Social Philosophy")

From the Introduction:

In this article, I examine Rawls's "political" critique of WSC [welfare state capitalism] and of its inability to fight structural injustices together with his proposal for POD [property-owning democracy] as a realistic prospect and a credible alternative to WSC. Section 2 describes the rise of inequalities of wealth and power as a source of structural injustices, and Rawls's insight as to why WSC is unable to fight them. Section 3 presents Rawls's alternative proposal of POD with its two ambitions, to protect, but also to emancipate citizens and guarantee their full rights. Section 4 asks whether POD can fully articulate these two aims and answer Sen's criticism (Sen, 1999) that this is still a "resourcist" solution that fails to fully emancipate citizens. Section 5 tentatively suggests that the justification for POD must rest on a new paradigm that redefines the nature of the Self in developmental terms (Audard, 2019), both capable and vulnerable over time (Nussbaum, 2006). The fight against inequalities of wealth through POD can then be justified as it aims at increasing agency and social mobility for all, not simply consumption and utility maximization, and, most importantly, as a basis for democratic citizenship and the full value of political liberties (Thomas, 2017b; White, 2015; White, 2016).

Catherine Audard is a Visiting Fellow Fellow at the Department of Philosophy of the London School of Economics. She is the author of "John Rawls" (Acumen Press, 2007).

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