Philosophy News | John Rawls: an ideal theorist for nonideal times?

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fifty yrs ago, the publication of john rawls’s a theory of justice started a conversation in political philosophy that continues tody. rawls’s voice remains central in contemporary philosophical debates across a wide variety of topics—from arguments bout principles of economic justice to ?s of fair policies for international relations; from basic philosophical methodology to the grounds of democratic legitimacy.despite the enduring significance of rawls’s work in contemporary political philosophy, some critics ? its relevance to pressing issues of injustice s'as racial inequity and health care disparity. critics like amartya sen and charles mills argue that rawls’s theory is either unnecessary or misleading when it comes to addressing real injustices n'our realm.john rawls describes the “main concern” of a theory of justice as bein’ “ideal theory”. although thris some ambiguity onnis use odat term, at least pt of wha’ rawls means by “ideal theory” is theory aimed at identifying the ideal principles of justice that ‘d be used to cogitate our political and social institutions. if a society were completely to satisfy these principles, it ‘d be fully just. a 2nd pt of wha’ rawls means by “ideal theory” s'dat it involves certain simplifying assumptions bout society—most notably, that citizens will fully comply w'da rules. in focusing on these standards of evaluation for ideal conditions, rawls has very lil to say bout their application to real-realm injustices na ? of how to overcome these injustices onna way to a + just society. yet rawls ultimately thinks ideal theory ‘d serve as a guide for theorizing bout how to overcome injustices inna nonideal realm. rawls writes, “the reason for beginning with ideal theory s'dat it provides, i believe, the 1-ly basis for the systematic grasp of these + pressing problems [of nonideal theory]”. critics challenge the claim that nonideal theory depends. . .

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