Rescuing justice from equality

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

This essay discusses Rawlsian justice in general and the difference principle in particular. It does so in the light of G. A. Cohen's masterful critique of Rawls in Rescuing Justice and Equality, a work that not only inspires the present paper, but also serves as a point of contrast for much within it. Like Cohen, I argue that the difference principle and the justifications given for it pull us in opposing directions. Specifically, I argue that Rawlsian arguments for the difference principle present a puzzle and that to respond adequately to the puzzle we must engage in rational reconstruction. To respond to the puzzle we must go beyond asking whether or not a proposed interpretation is one that Rawls himself would have endorsed, and start asking whether it is one that puts Rawlsian justice in its best light. This much, I believe, is common ground between Cohen and myself. However, in stark contrast to Cohen, I present an interpretation-a rational reconstruction-of Rawlsian justice that shows it to be less intolerant of economic inequality than it is commonly taken to be. My aim, in short, is to rescue Rawlsian justice from its commitment to equality. A key motivation behind this reconstructive effort is the following simple thought.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationNew Essays in Political and Social Philosophy
PublisherCambridge University Press
Pages180-212
Number of pages33
ISBN (Print)9781139096812, 9781107604537
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013

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Equality
Justice
John Rawls
Difference Principle
Rational Reconstruction
Economics
G. A. Cohen
Rescue
Justification
Thought

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)

Cite this

Wall, S. P. (2013). Rescuing justice from equality. In New Essays in Political and Social Philosophy (pp. 180-212). Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139096812.009

Rescuing justice from equality. / Wall, Steven P.

New Essays in Political and Social Philosophy. Cambridge University Press, 2013. p. 180-212.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Wall, SP 2013, Rescuing justice from equality. in New Essays in Political and Social Philosophy. Cambridge University Press, pp. 180-212. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139096812.009
Wall SP. Rescuing justice from equality. In New Essays in Political and Social Philosophy. Cambridge University Press. 2013. p. 180-212 https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139096812.009
Wall, Steven P. / Rescuing justice from equality. New Essays in Political and Social Philosophy. Cambridge University Press, 2013. pp. 180-212
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