Rawls - SAM BLACK, PHIL 120 NOTES ON RAWLS: SELECTIONS FROM...

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SAM BLACK, PHIL 120 NOTES ON RAWLS: SELECTIONS FROM A THEORY OF JUSTICE I: Comparison b/n Hobbesian and Kantian Contractarian Moral Theories Def'n social contract theory of morality: An action is right only if that action is permitted by principles that would be unanimously agreed to by the members of society. Actual social contract theories hold that people must actually agree to principles for those principles to be justified (e.g. John Locke). Hypothetical social contract theories hold that principles are justified if hypothetical or fictional persons who are rational agree to them (e.g. Hobbes and Rawls). Social contract theorists influenced by Hobbes and Kant endorse different conceptions of a ‘rational person’ : i) Hobbesian-style social contract theory: Moral and political principles are justified if those 1
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principles would be unanimously agreed to by people who aim to promote their self-interest (or merely their survival). ii) Kantian-style social contract theory: Moral and political principles are justified if those principles would be unanimously agreed to by people who aim to treat others with respect for their status as free and equal persons. Some Clarification: Rawls restricts his social contract theory to principles of just of justice (principles that govern public institutions). Rawls call his view "justice as fairness". Hobbes claims that the state’s legitimate authority originates in a social contract, but he claims that the ‘laws of nature’ have authority that is independent from the social contract. II Justice as Fairness The Meaning of ‘Fairness’: The concept of fairness is hard to define. It involves searching for principles that each person would agree to if they were being "reasonable"; and it 2
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is assumed that reasonable people will treat one another as ends rather than merely as a means. For the conception of "fairness" that has influenced Rawls recall Kant's formulations of the categorical imperative: The Universal Law Formula: "I should never act in such a way that I could not will that my maxim should be a universal law." (1st version) Formula of Humanity: "Act so that you treat humanity whether in your own person or in that of another, always as an end and never as a means only." (2nd version) *** The Lawmaker for Humanity Formula: “Always act so that your will by its maxims can regard itself as making universal law for a possible kingdom of ends.” (3 rd version) The third version of the CI perhaps comes closest to describing Rawls’ project.
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This note was uploaded on 07/15/2010 for the course PHIL 120 taught by Professor Evantiffany during the Spring '08 term at Simon Fraser.

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Rawls - SAM BLACK, PHIL 120 NOTES ON RAWLS: SELECTIONS FROM...

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