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What is liberal about John Rawls Theory of Justice? How may it be criticised?
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What is liberal about John Rawl's Theory of Justice? How may it be criticised?
John Rawl's Theory of Justice (published in 1970) argues for principled reconciliation of liberty and equality. The theory is neither altruistic (focused on helping others), nor is it egoistic (self-concerned), Rawls offers a model of a fair choice situation within which parties would hypothetically choose mutually acceptable parties of justice. But to what extent is this theory liberal?
Firstly Rawls believes in the theory of a "social contract", similarly to Hobbes and Locke, which is a liberal idea. As Locke maintains, "where there is no law there is no freedom". Our individual liberty requires that others are restrained from encroaching upon our freedom and this protection can arguably only provided by a sovereign state. Liberals recognise that it would be in their interests to sacrifice a portion of their liberty in order to protect their liberties, as well as avoid the "state of nature", within which life would be "nasty, brutish and short". However, Rawls theory is different from the ideas of earlier liberals in many ways, for example he does not accept the state of nature. Instead he starts from an
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