1 2013: 'In "Political Liberalism" John Rawls tries to steer clear of comprehensive moral and
metaphysical doctrines as justifications of the state and law. This, however, comes at a price.
Now his theory of the state and law is so embedded in actual contexts that it looks very much
like a Hobbesian rational compromise' Discuss.
1.1 Recasting as political, rationale behind this,
and how/whether this is damaging to the theory of state and
law. How does it compare to Hobbes?
1.2 c.f. FREEMAN- Rawl's conception of
OVERLAPPING CONSENSUS means that
everyone accepts LIBERAL CONCEPTIONS OF
JUSTICE not as a second-best choice, but
because this liberal conception is in
AGREEMENT with their own moral
comprehensive doctrines or intrinsic values.
NOT COMPROMISING. First choice.
1.2.1 c.f. FREEMAN: CONTRAST HOBBES:
way that democracy works- no one is
entirely satisfied, but ADEQUATE so far
as all are concerned. (modus vivendi-
18.104.22.168 so, although both HOBBES and RAWLS argue that their conceptions (original convergence, overlapping
consensus) are the BEST OPTIONS, in Hobbes' conception, citizens are having to settle for the social contract
agreement because it is simply BETTER than what they have, but not necessary the BEST of what they, as an
individual could have. Whereas RAWLS' O.C. argues that EVERYONE (that is, every REASONABLE person) gets
their BEST indviidual option because, for different reasons, the liberal principles of justice are COMPATIBLE
with their own comprehensive moral doctrines/moral views
1.3 Re: REFRAMING PUBLIC REASON as GUIDANCE for APPLYING
PRINCIPLES OF JUSTICE, as opposed to the idea of public reason being a
part of the narrow notion of JUSTICE AS FAIRNESS. Instead of justice as
fairness, And, as ALTERNATIVE ROUTE, RAWLS makes theory BROADER by
saying that PUBLIC REASON is a requirement of POLITICAL LEGITIMACY.
So, can apply to a system which doesn't understand justice as fairness. (c.f.
1.3.1 The price may not necessarily be becoming tantamount to a Hobbesian
rational enterprise, but Rawls ends up being so vague about the
CONTENT of public reason by reframing public reason as GUIDANCE for
the application of PRINCIPLE OF JUSTICE that his theory loses any real
22.214.171.124 BUT here is where RAWLS does slip up and make it into a HOBBESIAN RATIONAL COMPROMISE: states that only
the ESSENTIALS of the constitution must be acceptable to the reasonable person based on principles of
reasonableness and rationality. Argues that making it a requirement that ALL government action must be endorsed is
too STRENUOUS (c.f. FREEMAN). SO this means that people will have to SETTLE for many government actions
that they DO NOT ENDORSE/ would NOT BE THEIR FIRST OR BEST CHOICE
126.96.36.199 FURTHER SLIP-UP (c.f. FREEMAN): RAWLS expresses the distinction between LEGITIMACY and JUSTICE.
Can have a law enacted that abides by the PRINCIPLE OF LIBERAL LEGITIMACY, but is also (moderately)
UNJUST- but RAWLS says there is a MORAL DUTY to nonetheless OBEY this law, in order to ensure
STABILITY of the legal system. Thus, again, acceptance of second best (or worse) for the sake of the legal
system's stability- RATIONAL HOBBESIAN COMPROMISE
1.4 BUT: RECIPROCITY OF JUSTIFICATION- requires that all reasonable persons be prepared to accept
as GOOD REASONS the PUBLIC JUSTIFICATION of the use of COERCIVE POLITICAL POWER
according to the terms of its POLITICAL CONSTITUTION. iMPLIES citizens' GENERAL ACCEPTANCE
of the REASONS that PUBLICLY JUSTIFY the principles (c.f. FREEMAN)-NATURAL EXTENSION OF
THE SOCIAL CONTRACT [but with a twist of reasonable acceptance from those in a position of
EQUAL RIGHT, so not just expectation in itself that isn't backed up by historical fact, but also mixing
explicit metaphysical element that IF people were in a position of equal right, they'd generally accept
1.4.1 But is this criticism a result of Rawls' recasting, or would it have existed regardless? i.e. is it a price of reformulation, or would
this criticism have applied to the original theory and thus Rawls hasn't negatively distorted his theory by reformulation?
1.4.2 BUT c.f. RAWLS in RESPONSE TO HABERMAS: 'one might ask why the
Quaker's religiious doctrine prohibiting their engaging in war does not put their
allegience in doubt, Yet our religion may enjoin many things. It may require our
support of constitutional government as that which, of all feasible political
regimes, is most in accord with the religious injuction to be eqully concerned
with the basic rights and fundamental interests of others as well as our own.'
2 2012: Why did John Rawls recast his liberalism as 'political'? Did
this recasting successfully address the problems it was
supposed to address?
2.1 Contrast between moral and political philosophy (none of
the questions set by the teachers or the model question
explicitly approach Rawls from this angle)
2.2 BUT could be from the angle of successful avoidance of
COMPEHENSIVE MORAL DOCTRINES, and whether
THIS successfully addresses the problems it was supposed
to address, i.e. a concept of justice that is acceptable to
all, or all 'REASONABLE PERSONS'. Then, the idea that
'REASONABLE' is INHERENTLY MORAL, so Rawls has
2.3 PROBLEMS that needed addressing: the theory of justice ends up
being based on controversial MORAL assumptions, which people
have no basis to accept. Moreover, the ORIGINAL POSITION is
METAPHYSICAL, and so does not represent reality. Rawls thus
recasts his theory as POLITICAL LIBERALISM, to attempt to make his
theory FULLY NEUTRAL by basing reasons on political conception of
justice, as well as re-casting the original position as the DEVICE OF
2.4 c.f. FREEMAN: RAWLS (in THEORY) held that the social contract is to be grounded in
everyone's recognition of their moral autonomy that stems from their "general will" or their
joint authorship of moral laws as reasonable and rational citizens
2.5 THESIS: trying to avoid the METAPHYSICAL when it comes to
REASONS for people to accept POLITICAL LIBERALISM. Not about
avoiding the metaphysical altogether. So when it comes to his conception
of "RECIPROCITY OF ADVANTAGE", not problematic-- law-makers can
actually exercise this logic behind policy decisions. It is about whether this
would be acceptable to the people embracing this version of liberalism.
3 EM: 'A central problem in Rawls' political liberalism is
that it fails to appreciate that democratic public norm
determination is of the first signficance for the
legitimacy of the modern state and law.' Discuss.
3.1 This is primarily a question on LIBERALISM AND
DEMOCRACY, but is Rawls-centred
3.2 CENTRAL PROBLEM?
3.3 Is the DEMOCRATIC PUBLIC NORM DETERMINATION of the FIRST
SIGNIFICANCE of the legitimacy of the modern state and law? Does RAWLS fail
to appreciate this?
3.4 c.f. FREEMAN: Rawls' conception of REASONABLE PLURALISM is arguably recognising at least an aspect of a
DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY. And this conception plays a fundamental and central role in poltiical liberalism. Also,
OVERLAPPING CONSENSUS means all reasonable people accept LIBERAL conception of JUSTICE, and this is
underpinned in all public deliberation.
3.5 THESIS: 'LIBERAL' and 'DEMOCRATIC' a CONTRADICTION of terms? i.e. SOCIAL
CONTRACT emphasis on liberalism is about looking out for self-interests (particularly
HOBBES and KANT) whereas (particularly RADICAL) DEMOCRACY about COLLECTIVE
FREEDOM. Does Rawls maintain collective freedom? In a way-- with his CRITERION OF
RECIPROCITY. But DIVERGES from this through the RECIPROCITY OF JUSTIFICATION,
which makes it too hypothetical and based on the idea of a social contract, a historical
event, that never actually happened/people never actually agreed to.
3.6 c,f, FREEMAN- RAWLS distinguishes between DEMOCRACY-- i.e. GENERAL ACCEPTANCE of enacted
laws, and LEGITIMACY, i.e. accordance with a constitution that is REASONABLY ACCEPTABLE to
DEMOCRATIC CITIZENS. so perhaps arguable that Rawls DOES recognise democracy but using different
terminology. HOWEVER, because of his idea of 'REASONABLE ACCEPTANCE', this must be rejected as
it is INHERENTLY EXCLUSIVE (particularly when considering DELIBERATIVE DEMOCRACY)
3.7 c.f. FREEMAN: for RAWLS, PUBLIC REASON plays a substantial role in political liberalism.
Public reason's 'subject is the good of the PUBLIC; its content is a POLITICAL CONCEPTION OF
JUSTICE' (PL). Moreover, RAWLS states that the SUPREME COURT'S REASON IS PUBLIC
REASON, and 'the supreme court is the branch of government that serves as the exemlar of public
reason' (PL) the IMPLICATION behind this is that RAWLS believes in DEMOCRACY that is NOT
4 MW: In what sense, and to what extent, can Hobbes',
Kant's and Rawls' theories of the state and law be
said to be 'liberal'? Discuss
4.1 All-inclusive question centred on LIBERALISM
with regards the STATE and LAW
4.2 To what EXTENT suggests a RANKING of the theories in terms of their recognition of
4.2.1 Is this misleading? Yes, DEGREES of liberalism. But perhaps different types of
liberalism that cannot be compared against each other
5 AG: "Rawls' political theory is liberal whereas Hobbes'
and Kant's are not, because he successfully avoids
reliance upon comprehensive moral doctrines."
5.1 All-inclusive question, centred on: liberalism, and comprehensive moral doctrines.
5.2 is Rawls' political theory LIBERAL?
5.3 Is Hobbes' theory LIBERAL?
5.4 is KANT'S theory LIBERAL?
5.5 DOES Rawls' political theory SUCCESSFULLY avoid reliance
upon COMPREHENSIVE MORAL DOCTRINES?
5.6 c.f. FREEMAN: RAWLS- reformulates but
sustains the kind of social agreement that
underlies SOCIAL CONTRACT DOCTRINE.
Rather than all agreeing on justice for the same
reasons (Locke, Kant, Rousseau and Rawls in
THEORY) when O.C. prevails, different
comprehensive doctrines can agree on the
SAME CONCEPTIONS of justice in a
well-ordered society each for its OWN
PARTICULAR COMPREHENSIVE REASONS
5.7 THESIS: RAWLS relies on METAPHYSICAL DOCTRINE just as much as
KANT- the OVERLAPPING CONSENSUS is PURELY HYPOTHETICAL- whole
theory relies on IF the O.C. is an actual possibility
5.8 c.f. RAWLS: "KANTIAN CONSTRUCTIVISM"- attempting to AVOID
the problem of TRUTH and the controversy between realism and
subjectivism about the status of moral and political values. But
neither asserts nor denies these doctrines. 'Rather, it recasts ideas
from the tradition of the social contract to achieve a PRACTICABLE
CONCEPTION OF OBJECTIVITY AND JUSTIFICATION founded on
PUBLIC AGREEMENT in judgment on DUE REFLECTION [reflective
equilibrium]' Rawls asserts that the philosophical search for TRUTH
cannot bring about public agreement without the state's
INFRINEMENT OF BASIC LIBERTIES
6 GW: How does one's understanding of
human nature inform one's account of
law? Discuss with reference to at least
one of Hobbes, Kant and Rawls
6.1 A question regarding human nature comprising all
within the liberal-social contract theories
6.2 HOBBES: SoN
7 EM: 'Both Hobbes' and Kant's theories of the State and its
law are unsuitable in contemporary conditions of
REASONABLE PLURALISM' Discuss.
7.1 REASONABLE PLURALISM is a direct reference to
RAWLS. Therefore, this question discusses all
those in the LIBERAL-SOCIAL CONTRACT SECTION
7.2 CONTEMPORARY CONDITIONS?
7.3 REASONABLE PLURALISM?
7.4 BOTH HOBBES AND KANT = UNSUITABLE?
7.5 Is RAWLS' theory suitable?
7.6 THESIS: shall argue that the idea of reasonable pluralism does not match
contemporary conditions, as it is a MORAL CONSTRUCT inevitably dependent on
SUBJECTIVE views on WHAT IS REASONABLE. Moreover, there is more to
contemporary conditions than simply reasonable pluralism, such as FURTHER
IDEAS OF DEMOCRACY-- doesn't stop at pluralism. and REASONABLE PLURALISM
is INHERENTLY EXCLUSIVE, which cannot match the idea of DELIBERATIVE
7.7 c.f. FREEMAN: RAWLS' OVERLAPPING CONSENSUS: more OPTIMISTIC
than HOBBESIAN views about human capacity for REASONABLE
AGREEMENT. At the same time, more REALISTIC about the feasible bases
for reasonable agreement among free and equal persons than are NATURAL
RIGHTS THEORIES (KANT, RAWLS in THEORY) of the SOCIAL CONTRACT