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Rawls_BasicConcepts

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									     John Rawls

PHIL 399: Global Justice
 U Oregon, Winter 2010
       Colin Koopman
John Rawls (1921-2002)
           Today‟s Topics
1. Introducing Rawls

2. Four Roles of Political Philosophy

3. Rawls‟s Fundamental Ideas

4. More on the Idea of the Basic Structure
    Rawls‟ Major Publications
•   A Theory of Justice (1971)
•   Political Liberalism (1993)

•   The Law of Peoples (1993/1999)
•   Lectures on the History of Moral Phil. (2000)
•   Justice as Fairness (2001)
        „Justice as Fairness‟
•   Justice as Fairness: A Restatement (2002)
    offers a compact and accessible restatement
    of views developed at greater length first in A
    Theory of Justice (1971) and later refined in
    Political Liberalism (1993)
        Historical Context for Rawls
•       Anglo Political Philosophy 1850-1950 took one
        of two forms:
    –     Dominant form included versions of social-scientific
          utilitarianism and its variants (welfarism, rational
          choice theory, economics)
    –     Minor form included certain moralistic doctrines
          which tried to bring justice relations into focus as
          moral relations (utilitarianism, deontology).


•       Rawls revived normative political philosophy,
        rescuing it from the social scientists, and is
        largely responsible for the shape of analytic
        political philosophy 1960-2000.
      What is

Political Philosophy

    Good For?
Four Roles of Political Philosophy
1.   Practical
2.   Orientation
3.   Reconciliation
4.   Utopianism

 - Rawls, Justice as Fairness, §1, pp.1-5
    Roles of Political Philosophy
•    Practical: “to focus on deeply disputed
     questions and to see whether, despite
     appearances, some underlying basis of
     philosophical and moral agreement can be
     uncovered” (2).

•    Political Philosophy helps us solve practical
     political, policy, and legal matters.
    Roles of Political Philosophy
•    Orientation: “contribute to how a people think
     of their political and social institutions as a
     whole” (2).

•    Political Philosophy orients how we approach
     our political condition, how we think of
     ourselves, and others.
    Roles of Political Philosophy
•    Reconciliation: “showing us the way in which
     [our] institutions, when properly understood
     from a philosophical point of view, are rational”
     (3).

•    Political Philosophy helps us understand the
     advantages and values of current social order.
    Roles of Political Philosophy
•    Realistic Utopianism: “probing the limits of
     practical possibility” (2).

•    Imagining an ideal world which we can use as
     a normative measure for current political
     realities.

•    The blueprint conception of philosophy handed
     down from Plato‟s Republic.
     What are the

  Fundamental Ideas

of Political Philosophy?
         Fundamental Ideas
•   A system of inter-related ideas which orient
    how we ought to think about justice for the
    practical purposes of reconciling ourselves
    to the present and, more importantly,
    imagining a better future.
          Fundamental Ideas
•   Rawls believes that the fundamental ideas are
    already more or less featured in contemporary
    liberal democracies.

•   He sees himself as explicating the normative
    or moral core of liberal democratic politics.

•   But he is also probing the limits of practical
    possibility as a utopian would.
    Role of Fundamental Ideas
•   The Fundamental Ideas frame how we should
    go about the process of thinking about and
    adjudicating matters of justice.

•   The Fundamental Ideas provide a framework
    for political reflection and deliberation.
    Frameworks and Principles
•   Rawls offers his own arguments for a more
    Egalitarian Liberalism within the context of the
    framework supplied by the Fundamental Ideas.

•   We can detach Rawls‟ Fundamental Ideas
    Framework from Rawls‟ own Egalitarian
    Liberalism, if we want to.
Rawls‟ Fundamental Ideas
                   Social Cooperation
      (Well-Ordered Society + Free & Equal Persons)



               Basic Structure of Society



                     Public Reason



                    Original Position




       The Six Fundamental Ideas:
 listed on p.14 (§6.1) of Justice as Fairness.
Rawls‟ Fundamental Ideas
                 Social Cooperation
    (Well-Ordered Society + Free & Equal Persons)



              Basic Structure of Society



                   Public Reason



                  Original Position



   Reflective Equilibrum   Overlapping Consensus



        Our Judgments, Beliefs, and Practices
    The Fundamental Question
•   What is the fundamental question of political
    philosophy for a constitutional democratic
    regime?

•   “That question is: What is the most acceptable political
    conception of justice for specifying the fair terms of
    cooperation between citizens regarded as free and
    equal and as both reasonable and rational, and (we
    add) as normal and fully cooperating members of
    society over a complete life, from one generation to the
    next?” (8)
         Social Cooperation
Three Essential Features of Social Cooperation
                     (6, §2.2)

1. Distinct from merely socially coordinated
   activity
2. Includes the idea of fair terms of cooperation
   that participants may reasonably accept
3. Includes the idea of each participant‟s rational
   advantage
Rawls‟ Fundamental Ideas
                   Social Cooperation
      (Well-Ordered Society + Free & Equal Persons)



               Basic Structure of Society



                     Public Reason



                    Original Position




       The Six Fundamental Ideas:
 listed on p.14 (§6.1) of Justice as Fairness.
Rawls‟ Fundamental Ideas
                   Social Cooperation
      (Well-Ordered Society + Free & Equal Persons)



               Basic Structure of Society



                     Public Reason



                    Original Position




       The Six Fundamental Ideas:
 listed on p.14 (§6.1) of Justice as Fairness.
       Free & Equal Persons
•   The kinds of persons who we are developing a
    theory of justice for.

•   The kinds of persons who will deliberate about
    justice within the frame of the Fundamental
    Ideas.
       Free & Equal Persons
       “Two Moral Powers” (p.18-19, §7.1)

•   Capacity for a sense of justice (i.e., is able to
    treat others fairly whether they do or not)

•   Capacity for a conception of good (i.e., can
    formulate a plan in which life is taken as
    successful)
           Free & Equal Persons

•       Persons who have capacities for both…

    –     freedom (can autonomously pursue the good)

                        …and…

    –     equality (can treat all others fairly)
       Free & Equal Persons
•   Persons must possess both moral powers.

•   Not a theory for those who pathologically
    pursue their own good without being able to
    treat others as equals.

•   Not a theory for those so obsessed with
    fairness that they cannot themselves form an
    idea of what should be good.
       Free & Equal Persons
•   “The conception of the person itself is meant
    as both normative and political, not
    metaphysical or psychological” (19, §7.2)
           Well-Ordered Society
•       A society is well-ordered when it both…

    –     “advances the good of its members”
                …and..
    –     “is effectively regulated by a public conception of
          justice”

            –   Rawls, A Theory of Justice, §1
       Well-Ordered Society
•   A society with fair terms of adjudication
    accepted by all free and equal persons within
    that society.

•   A society possessing “[a] mutually recognized
    point of view from which citizens can
    adjudicate their claims” (p.9, §3.1)
       Well-Ordered Society

•   “Existing societies are of course seldom well-
    ordered in this sense, for what is just and
    unjust is usually in dispute” (Theory, p.5, §1)



•   The idea of a well-ordered society is thus a
    normative ideal which we should strive for.
         Social Cooperation
•   The two normative Ideas of Well-Ordered
    Society and Free & Equal Persons help us
    explicate the Idea of Social Cooperation

•   Idea of Social Cooperation is really the core
    starting point.
         Social Cooperation
•   “The fundamental organizing idea of justice as
    fairness, within which the other basic ideas are
    systematically connected, is that of society as
    a fair system of cooperation over time” (Rawls,
    Political Liberalism, p.15, §3 [1993])
Rawls‟ Fundamental Ideas
                 Social Cooperation
    (Well-Ordered Society + Free & Equal Persons)



              Basic Structure of Society



                   Public Reason



                  Original Position



   Reflective Equilibrum   Overlapping Consensus



        Our Judgments, Beliefs, and Practices
            Basic Structure
•   Justice as Fairness “takes the basic structure
    as the primary subject of justice” (10).

•   The basic structure is the place where fair
    terms of social cooperation get put into
    place.
    What is the Basic Structure?
•    “The way in which the major social institutions
     distribute fundamental rights and duties and
     determine the division of advantages from
     social cooperation” , (Theory of Justice §2)

•    Take a normal everyday social scenario and
     try to determine the enormous amount of
     apparatus that enables it to function as it does
     on a regular basis.
Basic Structure




    Portland, Oregon (1918)
            Basic Structure
Some Elements of Basic Structure:

•   Laws (Rights, Statutes)
•   Major Social Institutions (Police, Fire)
•   Material Structures (Roads/Buildings)
•   Technological Infrastructure (Roads)
•   Social Relations (Race/Gender)
Basic Structure




   Rotterdam, Netherlands (1940)
Basic Structure




  Saigon, South Vietnam (Apr. 1975)
             Basic Structure
•   A unifying idea that helps us see how
    institutions, material reality, and social custom
    “fit together into one system of social
    cooperation” (10).

•   There is one and only one basic structure for
    every society.

•   So, there is (or can be) one and only one
    theory of justice for every society.
Importance of Basic Structure
•   “Our focus is almost entirely on the basic
    structure as the subject of political and social
    justice” (10).

•   This is where the theory of justice really does
    its most important work.
 Locating the Basic Structure
• Is there such a thing as a „basic structure
  of society‟ on a global level?

• Or does it make sense to speak of „the
  basic structure of society‟ only on the
  national level?
Global/National Basic Structure
• If there is a global basic structure, then we
  can perhaps develop a theory of justice for
  global interconnectedness.




• If there is no global basic structure, then it
  makes sense to talk about justice only at
  the national leve.
            Basic Structure
•   Basic Structure is where the Fundamental Idea
    of Social Cooperation meets the Fundamental
    Deliberative Ideals of Public Reason and
    Original Position.


•   If the Basic Structure is just, then both our
    terms of social cooperation above will be just,
    and our everyday practices below will be just.
Working down to Basic Structure
 •   We use the Fundamental Idea from above of
     Fair Social Cooperation to see how we might
     want to introduce normative constraints onto
     our thinking about the basic structure.
Working up to Basic Structure
•   The Fundamental Ideas brought up from below
    such as Public Reason and Original Position
    help us understand how we might make the
    basic structure just on the basis of our existing
    everyday beliefs, practices, and conceptions.
          Rawls‟ Fundamental Ideas
Ideal political
                                     Social Cooperation
constraints of social
cooperation, social     (Well-Ordered Society + Free & Equal Persons)
order, and citizens


                                                ???


Everyday beliefs and
                                        Public Reason
practices as
constrained by fair
procedure
                                       Original Position



                        Reflective Equilibrum    Overlapping Consensus



                            Our Judgments, Beliefs, and Practices
          Rawls‟ Fundamental Ideas
Ideal political
                                     Social Cooperation
constraints of social
cooperation, social     (Well-Ordered Society + Free & Equal Persons)
order, and citizens


                                   Basic Structure of Society


Everyday beliefs and
                                        Public Reason
practices as
constrained by fair
procedure
                                       Original Position



                        Reflective Equilibrum   Overlapping Consensus



                            Our Judgments, Beliefs, and Practices
Rawls‟ Fundamental Ideas
                 Social Cooperation
    (Well-Ordered Society + Free & Equal Persons)



             Basic Structure of Society



                   Public Reason



                  Original Position
       Original Position (OP)
•   Position in which parties agree or contract to
    fair terms of social cooperation.

•   OP specifies a point of view from which fair
    agreement can be reached.
       Original Position (OP)
•   Rather than starting with what divides us…

•   Let‟s start with what we all have in common
    and what we would all tend to agree to…

•   How can we do this?
      Veil of Ignorance in OP

•   “The parties are not allowed to know the social
    positions or the particular comprehensive
    doctrines of the persons they represent. They
    also do not know persons‟ race and ethnic
    group, sex, or various native endowments
    such as strength and intelligence” (15, §6.2)
           Veil of Ignorance
Social Class           Comprehensive Beliefs
Gender & Sexuality     Race & Ethnicity

Political & Economic Structure of Society

Conditions of Religious & Philosophical Pluralism
Demand for Goods under Conditions of Scarcity
General Facts about Human Emotion & Rationality
       Original Position (OP)
•   Hypothetical (we won‟t actually do it)

•   Nonhistorical (it never actually happened)

•   The Original Position is a thought experiment
    (“a device of representation”) designed to help
    us understand how we should model fair terms
    of agreeing to a social order.
             Public Reason
•   Specifies how to go about reasoning about
    Basic Structure fairly.

•   Public reason expresses the constraints on
    reasoning that arise in the Original Position.
             Public Reason
•   “…ways of reasoning and inference
    appropriate to fundamental political
    questions… beliefs, grounds, and political
    values it is reasonable for others also to
    acknowledge” (27, §9.2)
             Public Reason
•   Let‟s try to narrow disagreement…

•   …and start from what we agree on…

•   …and focus on kinds of reasons we all tend to
    accept…

•   …so that we can fairly deliberate about how to
    organize the Basic Structure of Society.
  More on Rawls‟s Key Idea:
The Basic Structure of Society
Rawls‟ Fundamental Ideas
                 Social Cooperation
    (Well-Ordered Society + Free & Equal Persons)



             Basic Structure of Society



                   Public Reason



                  Original Position
             Basic Structure
•   A unifying idea that helps us see how
    institutions, material reality, and social custom
    “fit together into one system of social
    cooperation” (10).

•   There is one and only one basic structure for
    every society.

•   So, there is (or can be) one and only one
    theory of justice for every society.
    When is „Justice‟ relevant?
•   Where do we locate the basic structure in the ethics and
    politics of everyday practices like, say, drinking coffee?

•   Is justice involved in everyday events like drinking coffee?
When is „Justice‟ relevant?
When is „Justice‟ relevant?
    Justice between persons
•   Many political philosophers have theorized „justice‟ as a
    relation that holds between persons
•   Justice is a relation between the coffee customer and
    the café owner.
        Justice between persons
•       The relation between customer and café governed by
        certain basic norms of justice (e.g., a no-harm rule).
    –     Customer can‟t justly steal the coffee…
    –     Owner can‟t justly spill the coffee on the customer…
    Justice between persons

•   Justice may also hold between customer and coffee
    farmers if we can trace harm (e.g., Fair Trade).
    Justice in Basic Structure
•   Rawls thought of „justice‟ as a relation that pertains to
    basic social institutions that affect us all
•   Justice is a feature of the basic structures of society
    Justice in Basic Structure
•   Don‟t think of justice as a one-on-one relation between
    two people or two groups.

•   Justice pertains to the basic structures of society that
    makes things work the way they do.

•   “It‟s the system, man!”
     Addendum:
Contextualizing Rawls‟s
   Contributions to
 Political Philosophy
    Political Theory 1850-1950
•   Liberal Theorists: J.S. Mill, Herbert
    Spencer, L.T. Hobhouse, Henry Sidgwick

•   Liberal Economists: Alfred Marshall,
    J.M. Keynes, Kenneth Arrow

•   Increasing dominance of economists on
    practical policy
Political Theory 1960-present
•   Revival of Normative Political Theory
    (i.e., political philosophies saying how we
    ought to organize ourselves)

•   John Rawls, Robert Nozick, Ronald
    Dworkin, Thomas Nagel, Joshua Cohen,
    Martha Nussbaum, Amartya Sen
    Reviving Normative Theory
•   Concept of „the basic structure of society‟

•   Provides a way for thinking about justice in
    social-institutional terms. Justice used to be
    thought of as person-to-person relations. Now
    justice can be theorized as a social project.
    Reviving Normative Theory
•   Concept of „the basic structure of society‟

•   From near-exclusive concern with utility…

•   …to a wider theory that strikes a balance
    between liberties (rights, privacies) in the
    private sphere and social welfare in the public
    sphere.
    Reviving Normative Theory
•   Concept of „the basic structure of society‟

•   The basic structure describes a singular public
    sphere.

•   A singular public sphere the proper object of a
    theory of justice.

								
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