SAGE Journal Articles

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Article 16.1

Budde, K. (2007). Rawls on Kant: Is Rawls a Kantian or Kant a Rawlsian? European Journal of Political Theory6(3), 339-358.

This article will investigate Rawls’s claim that his theory is Kantian in origin. In drawing on the Lectures on the History of Moral Philosophy, I will show that Rawls’s claim to be Kantian cannot be conclusively explained and assessed without the Lectures. An investigation of the Lectures shows that Rawls forces onto Kant’s theory a Rawlsian interpretation which crucially alters Kant’s theory. So far the secondary literature has neglected to subject Rawls’s Lectures to detailed philosophical scrutiny. This article aims to fill this gap in the literature on Rawls’s Kantianism. I will identify three points in Rawls’s interpretation of Kant (need for CI-procedure, willing condition, true human needs) which are questionable. I argue that the similarities of Rawls’s theory to Kant are due to these (mis)interpretations, which makes Rawls’s claim to be Kantian ultimately not legitimate.

Article 16.2

Cicourel, A. V. (2009). John Rawls on two concepts of rules: Some speculations about their ecological validity in behavioral and social science research. Journal of Classical Sociology, 9(4), 371–387.

Over 50 years have passed since the publication of John Rawls’ paper ‘Two Concepts of Rules’ (1955). The paper remains a unique work. Rawls’ seminal ‘distinction between justifying a practice and justifying a particular action falling under it’ (1955:3) provides us with a powerful analytic proposition that can have extensive theoretical and empirical consequences for the social sciences, as I seek to demonstrate below. In footnote 1 on page 3, Rawls states that ‘practice’ is a technical term that refers to ‘any form of activity specified by a system of rules which defines offices, roles, moves, penalties, defenses, and so on, and which gives the activity its structure. As examples one may think of games and rituals, trials and parliaments.’ Rawls’ philosophical objective was to defend utilitarianism vis-à-vis ‘punishment and the obligations to keep promises.’ The general idea was to provide a clearer understanding of a rule regardless of whether or not it is defensible. The notion of two conceptions of rules is central to his discussion. I ask: can Rawls’ unique analytical notion of two concepts of rules be clarified by empirical research in the social sciences? I present some recent data from a criminal justice case to illustrate the notion’s potential and limitations. The empirical circumstances are somewhat dramatic. The case involved an allegation of inter-racial sexual molestation and two counts of Grand Theft. The sexual molestation allegation is a theme at the heart of deep-seated cultural tensions between Caucasians and African Americans that can be traced back to initial importation of slaves from Africa. The inter-racial sexual molestation allegation was documented in detail by two law-enforcement agencies but was never pursued. Once major consequence of this decision was to render empirically problematic the issue of when a case is said to fall under a rule of law.

Article 16.3

Lafont, C. (2003). Procedural justice? Implications of the Rawls-Habermas debate for discourse ethics. Philosophy & Social Criticism29(2), 163-181.

This paper focuses on the discussion between Rawls and Habermas on procedural justice. The author uses Rawls’s distinction between pure, perfect, and imperfect procedural justice to distinguish three possible readings of discourse ethics. Then the author argues, against Habermas’s own recent claims, that only an interpretation of discourse ethics as imperfect procedural justice can make compatible its professed cognitivism with its proceduralism. Thus discourse ethics cannot be understood as a purely procedural account of the notion of justice. Finally the author draws the different consequences that follow from this reading.