Illiberal Justice

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2007-04-30
  • Publisher: Univ of Missouri Pr

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Often considered the greatest American political philosopher of the twentieth century, and the most important liberal theorist since John Stuart Mill, John Rawls enjoys a practically sacrosanct status among scholars of political theory, law, and ethics. InIlliberal Justice,David Schaefer offers the most thorough challenge to Rawlsrs"s doctrine yet published, demonstrating how his teachings deviate from the core tradition of constitutional liberalism as exemplified by leading American statesmen from the founders through Lincoln and beyond. Illiberal Justiceis the first comprehensive overview of all of Rawlsrs"s writings, emphasizing the continuity in his thought and intention to a greater extent than other scholars have done. Schaefer offers a fundamental critique of both Rawlsrs"s conception of political philosophy and the policy judgments he derives from his "principles of justice." Schaefer argues that Rawlsrs"s failure to ground his teaching about justice in a serious analysis of human nature or an empirical grasp of political life is symptomatic of a larger crisis within contemporary liberal political and jurisprudential theorizing. Although Rawls is commonly viewed as a welfare-state liberal, Schaefer stresses that his writings actually embody a radical transformation of liberalism in the direction of libertarianism that deviates sharply from the American liberal tradition. Citing empirical evidence of the persistence of political and economic opportunity in America, Schaefer challenges Rawlsrs"s allegations that our polity suffers from grave injustices. He points out the strikingly apocalyptic tone of Rawlsrs"s last writings, in which Rawls even questions whether human existence is worthwhile if his principles are not actualized. Illiberal Justiceis not only a critique of Rawlsrs"s political program and philosophic methodology, it is also a defense of the American constitutional order against Rawlsrs"s dogmatic theorizing, which Schaefer argues has exercised an increasing, and detrimental, effect on our jurisprudence. By combining a thorough critical exegesis of Rawlsrs"s texts with a broad engagement with the tradition of political philosophy and American political thought, Schaefer makes an important contribution to both our understanding of Rawls and the enterprise of political philosophy.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
Abbreviationsp. xiii
Introduction: John Rawls and the Crisis of American Liberalismp. 1
Justice as Fairnessp. 9
The Second Principle of Justicep. 34
"Choosing" Principles of Justice in the Original Positionp. 53
A Just Constitutionp. 82
Economic Justicep. 108
Civil Disobedience vs. the Right of Resistancep. 145
"Goodness as Rationality," Self-Respect, and Rawlsian Jurisprudencep. 164
The Sense of Justicep. 187
The Just and the Goodp. 199
Political Liberalism I: Principlesp. 233
Political Liberalism II: Applicationsp. 258
"The Idea of Public Reason Revisited"p. 287
The Law of Peoplesp. 300
Conclusionp. 315
Bibliographyp. 337
Indexp. 361
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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