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Croatian Journal of Philosophy

Volume 1, Issue 3, 2001
The Philosophy of John Rawls

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1. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 1 > Issue: 3
Carla Bagnoli, Elvio Baccarini The Philosophy of John Rawls: Thirty Years after A Theory of Justice
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2. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 1 > Issue: 3
Sebastiano Maffettone John Rawls: An Interpretation
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This article raises some structural and theoretical problems in comprehensively reading Rawls. The first part divides Rawls’s oeuvre into two periods: the period marked by his most significant work A Theory of Justice (1971), and the period represented by Political Liberalism (1993) and The Law of Peoples (1999). The article examines ideas from all three books. The author first tries to show the continuity of Rawls’s liberalism, the best example being the development of the idea of the priority of right over the idea of the good, and the development of the ideal of equality. The second aim is to explain the idea of public reason, introduced in Rawls’s second period, and related objections, while examining three basic forms of justification in Political Liberalism. The author also takes into account Rawls’s criticism of the idea of political philosophy, which he sees as too keen to solve the needs of political society and less willing to explore the philosophical doctrine’s potential, and his idea of philosophical liberalism as opposed to political liberalism. The third part of the article stresses the principles and norms of international law and practice, and explains what Rawls calls “realistic utopia” and some related problems.
3. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 1 > Issue: 3
Anthony Simon Laden Republican Moments in Political Liberalism
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The author argues that the distinctive aspects of political liberalism have historical roots in the republican tradition that is often described as “neo-roman,” and recently given articulation in the work of Q. Skinner and P. Pettit. The primary task of this paper will be to layout these correlations, to provide, as it were, a mapping between the vocabulary of the neo-roman theory and that of political liberalism. By tracing the genealogy of political liberalism, the author argues that we ought to rethink the history, the vocabulary, and conceptual framework of contemporary political philosophy. In particular, seeing political liberalism as a form of republican theory as well as a form of liberal theory changes how we understand it: it brings out certain distinctive features of the structure of the view that are often overlooked, such as its stress on certain civic duties and its conception of freedom as a freedom of the city. If leading republican and liberal thinkers turn out to have much in common, then we will have to rethink also our intellectual geography: we will have to sketch in some land-bridges between the continents.
4. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 1 > Issue: 3
Matthew Clayton Rawls and Natural Aristocracy
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The author discusses Rawls’s conception of socioeconomic justice, Democratic Equality. He contrasts Rawls’s account, which includes the difference principle constrained by the principle of fair equality of opportunity, with Natural Aristocracy, which constrains the difference principle only by the principle of careers open to talents. According to the author, many of Rawls’s own arguments support NaturalAristocracy over Democratic Equality. In particular, Natural Aristocracy appears well placed to avoid a challenge that naturally arises in consideration of Democratic Equality, with respect to which formal distributive principle should deal with social and natural causes of inequality. The challenge is to cite a morally relevant distinction which supports the appropriateness of dealing with natural causes of inequality differently to those generated by social causes. In support of his proposal, the author also appeals to certain arguments in Rawls’s Political Liberalism.
5. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 1 > Issue: 3
Neven Petrović Personal Assets and Justice: The Positive Argument
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This article critically explores John Rawls’s contention that the personal assets of individuals, i.e. their mental and bodily powers, should not determine the size of their holdings. Since such an argument may have several forms, the first task is to establish which of them Rawls himself advocates. He relies, it is argued, on a version that attempts to convince us that personal assets should not play a decisive distributive role because they are undeserved. This account is then formally reconstructed, making all the relevant premises visible and preparing the ground for a critique that concentrates on the argument’s separate steps. Coming under attack first is the claim that everything should be deserved. The discussion examines next the premise urging us to find an ultimate, indisputable ground for desert-claims. Debate about this issue reveals some fundamental weaknesses in Rawls’s position: that he demands too much and is inconsistent; that some strong counter-intuitive consequences follow from his demands; and that his entire project, were such a criterion taken seriously, is undermined. Final comments are directed against the assertion that the community should own everything an individual does not deserve, showing that this does not remove moral arbitrariness, allows for the use of some persons as resources for others, and cannot plausibly limit its range of application. Most of these criticisms are not original, but are in accord with this paper’s main intention of combining as many good points against Rawls as possible.
6. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 1 > Issue: 3
Giovanni De Grandis Making Sense of A Theory of Justice
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The primary aim of this interpretive essay is to reconstruct some of the most important features of Rawls’s theory of justice, and to offer a hypothesis about how its assumptions and arguments are tied together in a highly structured construction. An almost philological approach is adopted to highlight Rawlsian ideas. First, I consider in what sense Rawls is an individualist and in what sense he is not. Fromthis I conclude that he ought not be charged of psychological egoism or atomism. Then I consider the role of rational choice, the contract and the relation of the latter to the criterion of reflective equilibrium. Here, pride of place is given to the reflexive method, while the role of contract and rational choice, though not denied, is downgraded. Finally, I enquire whether Rawls can be considered a universalist, and suggest that this category, owing to the theory’s practical aim and pragmatic method, is of little use. If successful, my reconstruction should offer a better insight into the theory and dispel some possible misunderstandings. But my presentation should not be read as either an assessment or a defense.
7. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 1 > Issue: 3
Carla Bagnoli Rawls on the Objectivity of Practical Reason
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This article argues that Rawls’ history of ethics importantly contributes to the advancement of ethical theory, in that it correctly situates Kantian constructivism as an alternative to both sentimentalism and rational Intuitionism, and calls attention to the standards of objectivity in ethics. The author shows that by suggesting that both Intuitionist and Humean doctrines face the charge of heteronomy, Rawls appearsto adopt a Kantian conception of practical reason. Furthermore, Rawls follows Kant in assuming that ethical objectivity can be vindicated only if the productive and constructive powers of reason are acknowledged. The author accounts for this assumption against the background of Kant’s moral psychology, and examines Intuitionist and Humean rejoinders. Contrary to a common view, the author arguesthat because of its claims on the nature of moral agency and the sovereignty of practical reason, Kantian Constructivism sets the standards of ethical objectivity higher than its alternatives, and is more ambitious and more demanding than the realist conception of objectivity.
8. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 1 > Issue: 3
Elvio Baccarini Rawls and the Question of Physician-Assisted Suicide
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Rawls’s theory of justice is capable of providing an important contribution to the question of physician-assisted suicide (PAS). PAS should be guaranteed as a right to make decisions in accordance with the conception of the good the individual formulates as a rational being. This defense is supported, therefore, by a Kantian premise. But it is also possible to oppose this kind of proposal by relying on differentaspects of Kant’s theory, i.e. on some variant of the famous argument against suicide based on the means/end formulation of the categorical imperative. In this paper, I try to show that these attempts are not well founded, and that the Rawlsian appeal to the Kantian tradition divulges better perspectives. I also try to add considerations inspired by contextualist epistemology to the Rawlsian appeal to the burdens ofjudgment.
9. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 1 > Issue: 3
Jonathan Wolff John Rawls: Liberal Democracy Restated
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The paper starts with brief biographical details of John Rawls’s life, and indications regarding the significance of his proposal. The most relevant part of the article is dedicated to the discussion of the concept of democracy as it is included in Rawls’s theory of Justice. Rawls tries to find a solution to the incompatibility of two different motivations for democracy: the instrumental and the intrinsic defence. It followsfrom Rawls’s proposal that the two defences need not necessarily to be incompatible. Participation in public decision procedures helps citizens to improve their capacities. According to the author of the paper, the main criticisms of Rawls come not so much from doubts about the validity of these arguments, but from questioning the realism of his proposals.
book reviews
10. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 1 > Issue: 3
Daniele Santoro Articulating Reasons: An Introduction to Inferentialism
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11. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 1 > Issue: 3
Jasmina Čelica Self-Fulfillment
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12. Croatian Journal of Philosophy: Volume > 1 > Issue: 3
Nebojša Zelič The Law of Peoples With “The Idea of Public Reason Revisited”
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