Kantian Journal

2017 Vol. 36. No. 4

Back to the list Download an article

Some aspects of John Rawls’s first principle of justice

DOI
10.5922/0207-6918-2017-4-1
Pages
7-17

Abstract

The article considers the first of the two principles of justice proposed by the American philosopher John Rawls as universal principles that would be chosen by every reasonable and rational person in an ‘original position’. The work analyses the problematic aspects of the principle’s formulation (the vagueness of the list of key rights and freedoms and the value criterion for ranking them) and of the methods used by Rawls to overcome them in the works published after the acclaimed book A theory of Justice. The author addresses the problem of the correlation between freedom and security and argues that it was not studied sufficiently by Rawls. It is stressed that the absolute priority of the first principles of justice over the second one, which was declared by Rawls, is debatable. Disparate variations of the relative priority rule seem more convincing. The author gives a generally positive assessment of the improved formulation of the first principle of justice and emphasises that the principles of justice must take into account moral principles. Moreover, rights and freedoms should include those relating to personal and family lifestyle, childbirth and parenting and priority should be given to those freedoms that contribute to the development of the feeling of justice and the realisation of the moral ideal. It is concluded that Rawls demonstrated convincingly the relative value of democratic institutions.

Reference

1. Alekseeva, Т. А. 1991, Spravedlivost’ kak dogovor (kriticheskii analiz teorii spravedlivosti Djona Roulsa) [Justice as contract (critical analysis of the John Rawls’ theory of justice)],  in: Problemy politicheskoi filosofii [Issues of political philosophy]. Moscow. S. 69—85. 
2. Kuzmina, A. B. 1998, Ideya spravedlivosti v liberal’noi tradicii [Idea of justice in liberal tradition]. Moscow.
3. Rawls, J. 2006, Spravedlivost’ kak chestnost’ [Justice as fairness] // Logos [Logos]. No. 1 (52). S. 35—60.
4. Rawls, J. 2009, Teoriya spravedlivosti [A theory of justice]. Moscow.
5. Sen А. 2016. Ideya spravedlivosti [The idea of justice]. Moscow. 
6. Frolova, Е. А. 2012, Kategorii spravedlivosti, neobhodimosti i dolzhenstvovaniya pri issledovanii sotsial'nyh otnoshenii v filosofii neokantianstva [Categories of justice, necessity and duty by the study of social relations in the neo-Kantian philosophy], in: Pravo i gosudarstvo: teorija i praktika [Law and State: Theory and Practice]. No. 10. Pp. 112—121.
7. Frolova, Е. А. 2011, Pravovoi ideal v filosofii prava [Legal ideal in philosophy of law], in: Vestnik Moskovskogo universiteta. Seriya 11. Pravo [Moscow State Univercity Bulletin. Part 11. Law]. No. 5. S. 68—81.
8. Höffe, О. 1994, Politika. Pravo. Spravedlivost'. Osnovopolozheniya kriticheskoi filosofii prava i gosudarstv, [Policy. Right. Justice. Basic principle of the critical philosophy of law and state]. Мoscow.
9. Bae, Y.-S. 2002, Balancing Equality and Liberty in Rawls’s Theory of Justice. Master's Thesis, University of Tennessee.
10. Barry, B. 1973, John Rawls and the Priority of Liberty, in: Philosophy & Public Affairs. Vol. 2. N 3. P. 274—290. 
11. Hart, H. L. A. 1973, Rawls on Liberty and Its Priority, in: University of Chicago Law Review: Vol. 40. Iss. 3. P. 534—555.
12. Höffe, O. 2015, Kritik der Freiheit. Das Grundproblem der Moderne. München.
13. Koller, P. 2013, Die Grundsätze der Gerechtigkeit, in: John Rawls: Eine Theorie der Gerechtigkeit. Hrsg. von Otfried Höffe. Berlin. S. 41—64.
14. Maihofer, W. 1976, Freiheit und Sicherheit im Rechtsstaat. BMI-Dokumentation, Nr. 19.
15. Nickel, W. J. 1994, Rethinking Rawls's Theory of Liberty and Rights, in: Chicago-Kent Law Review. Vol. 69. P. 763—785.
16. Oliveira, N. de 2007, Rawls’s Normative Conception of the Person: A Kantian Reinterpretation, in: VERITAS Porto Alegre, v. 52, n. 1. P. 171—183.
17. Pogge, T. 2013, Gleiche Freiheit für alle? In: John Rawls: Eine Theorie der Gerechtigkeit. Hrsg. von Otfried Höffe. Berlin. S. 135—152. 
18. Rawls, J. 1981, The basic liberties and their priority (The Tanner Lectures on Human Values). Michigan.
19. Sandel, M. 1994, Political liberalism (Book Review), in: Harvard Law Review. May 1994. P. 1765—1794.
20. Taylor, R. S. 2003, Rawls’s Defense of the Priority of Liberty: A Kantian Reconstruction, in: Philosophy & Public Affairs. Vol. 31. No. 3. P. 246—271.