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PHL lecture, apr. 3.doc

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University of Toronto St. George
Peter King

Rawls: Political not Metaphysical  Insists that his a ‘political’ conception of justice one that is specific to modern liberal constitutional democracies with a shared political tradition and a large industrial economy o In such countries Rawls holds, there is a political tradition he takes his notion of ‘justice as fairness’ to articulate, roughly:  Tolerance for a plurality of conceptions of the good;  Citizens regarded as free and equal, able to take part in the political life;  Public conception of justice;  A society as a fair system of cooperation among persons o Different (stable) societies call on different political tradition  Rawls wants to restrict ‘justice as fairness’ to one particular historical tradition-ours  Our political tradition understands society to be a cooperative venture among its citizens, a conception that is quite historically determinate and unusual o Our political tradition thereby takes collective social action to be more than merely coordinated activity;  It is rather guided and motivated by publicly recognized rules which we voluntarily adhere to as a condition of our reciprocal and mutual interaction  The idea that we conform to public rules reflects the fact that we may have differing visions of the good, although we are committed to making them work together  But given that there is no shared conception of the good, we need to find some point of view from which we can agree to start when confronted with differences of opinion  On the one hand, this means that we have to begin from some kind of shared background  One the other hand as equal participants in the process, we need to eliminate any bargaining inequities that may be present in our real-world conditions  That is what the Original Position and the Veil of Ignorance do, as what Rawls calls here a ‘device of representation’ a way to capture our considered judgments about what counts as a level playing field  If we pursue the implications, Rawls thinks we will see that he I proposing a philosophically shallow view o Shallow in the sense that he is not committed to any deep claims about
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