Our John Rawls For The Day

In a post in his blog, Paul Krugman channels John Bordley Rawls –

My vision of economic morality is more or less Rawlsian: we should try to create the society each of us would want if we didn’t know in advance who we’d be. And I believe that this vision leads, in practice, to something like the kind of society Western democracies have constructed since World War II — societies in which the hard-working, talented and/or lucky can get rich, but in which some of their wealth is taxed away to pay for a social safety net, because you could have been one of those who strikes out.

From Jomelgamba’s Blog  from his post, John Rawls: A theory of Justice

The author (Rawls) appeals to the social contract. Justice as fairness is thus offered to people who are neither saintly altruists nor greedy egoists. Human beings are, as Rawls puts it, both rational and reasonable. Because we are rational we have ends we want to achieve, but we are reasonable insofar as we are happy to achieve these ends together if we can, in accord with mutually acceptable regulative principles. Rawls gives us a model of a fair situation for making this choice (his argument from the original position and the famous veil of ignorance), and he argues that two principles of justice would be especially attractive.

And from the University of Sydney –

I ran into the name John Rawls while exploring philosophy long before I began blogging. I saw an article in which he was mentioned a few months ago and the next thing you know it’s six degree of John Rawls. He was everywhere. Since then, I have read much more about him and have concluded that he well deserves to be everywhere.

I am at the beginning of my work with Rawls’ theories and I’ll mention interesting steps in the journey as I go along.

James Pilant

A Property-Owning Democracy (via Understanding Society)

From Understanding Society

The past thirty years have taken us a great distance away from the social ideal represented by Rawls’s Theory of Justice. The acceleration of inequalities of income and wealth in the US economy is flatly unjust, by Rawls’s standards. The increasing — and now by Supreme Court decision, almost unconstrained — ability of corporations to exert influence within political affairs has severely undermined the fundamental political equality of all citizens. And the extreme forms of inequality of opportunity and outcome that exist in our society — and the widening of these gaps in recent decades — violate the basic principles of justice, requiring the full and fair equality of political lives of all citizens. This suggests that Rawls’s theory provides the basis for a very sweeping critique of existing economic and political institutions. In effect, the liberal theorist offers radical criticism of the existing order.

This post takes John Rawls, quotes his writing in the context of what he considers a just society and then compares that with our current situation. The author is not pleased. Many of the objections that Rawls would have made according to this author are the same or similar objections that I would make myself.

The veil of ignorance: great thought experiment (via The Hannibal Blog)

In this 2009 posting, The Hannibal Blog, discusses (approvingly) Rawls’ concept of the “veil of ignorance.” It’s a good discussion.

James Pilant

The veil of ignorance: great thought experiment What if we could get together to form a new kind of society … and we did not even know who we would be in that society? This is a famous thought experiment, proposed by the Harvard philosopher John Rawls in his 1971 book, Theory of Justice. Jag, of "idiomology" fame, mentioned it in response to my previous post on (Einstein's) thought experiments, and it … Read More

via The Hannibal Blog

Varieties of Liberalism(s) (via Chasing Fat Tails)

Yesterday, I called attention to a post from Grand Strategy: The View from Oregon about a comparsion between the writings of John Rawls and Aristotle. Today in Chasing Fat Tails, I find further discussions on the importance of Rawls.

James Pilant

Over at Crooked Timber, John Holbo has a good post on Zizek's supposed critique of liberalism. Holbo is see what Zizek has to say about liberalism, qua political philosophy, but he's disappointed to find that Zizek (shock of all shocks!) basically straw-mans liberalism (qua political philosophy) by equating it with neoliberalism: "I’m writing an article on (wait for it!) Zizek on liberalism, and one point I want to make is that when Zizek critiqu … Read More

via Chasing Fat Tails