Will Wilkinson has an interesting post up arguing that Rawls is inconsistent in the idealizing assumptions he makes in A Theory of Justice. The gist of it is that Rawls initially says (in §2) that he is assuming “strict compliance” (i.e. everyone is assumed to have an effective sense of justice), leaving problems of “partial compliance” for later (e.g. just war, rebellion, civil disobedience), but then (in §42) admits that we need the coercive power of the state to ensure that people don’t free ride, which seems inconsistent.
I don’t think Rawls is retracting his strict compliance assumption, in Section 42. It’s just that he assumes that the sense of justice involves a reciprocity condition. Continue reading “Inconsistent Idealization in Rawls”
I will be on sabbatical during the 2010-11 academic year, and so not teaching. Following in Prof. Farelly’s footsteps, I will be a visitor at the Center for the Study of Social Justice, at the University of Oxford.
Two recent conference papers I’ve written are available online. The first was for the MPSA annual meeting in Chicago, is called “Epistemic Proceduralism and the Scope of Democratic Authority,” and is about the role of public justification in David Estlund’s theory of democracy. The argument is quite a bit different than in my Representation article – I’m less worried about the objection that the principle of public justifiability might not itself be publicly justifiable, and more worried about the scope of political authority the principle will permit. The paper also begins with what I think is a better explanation of what I take to be Estlund’s basic idea, and why it is important.
The second is called “Justice and Reciprocity,” and is for the CPSA meeting going on this week in Montreal.