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Jeremy Waldron on Justice - Dictionary of Arguments

Gaus I 95
Justice//the good/liberalism/Waldron: Assuming we can define, even roughly, the set of conceptions of the good that must be accommodated in the approach that we take to justice and the justification of the basic structure of a liberal society, what is the relation supposed to be between the set of reasonable conceptions and an acceptable theory of justice? >Rawls/Waldron, >Justice/Rawls.
Waldron: One possibility is to insist on something like a unanimity requirement: i.e. we could say that no theory of justice is acceptable if members of a given conception of the good are inclined to repudiate it. But this is much too strong, and in a way that misconceives the nature of the difficulty that political liberalism addresses. The problem is not that theories of justice are controversial; the critical reaction that led Rawls to modify the approach he took to the subject of justice was not that people (like Nozick, 1974(1), for example) disagreed with his principles on justice-related grounds. The problem was that some people would have a particular kind of difficulty with his theory (...).
Waldron: The key, then, is to insist that an acceptable theory of justice, T, must be such that, among whatever reasons there are for rejecting T or disagreeing with T, none turn on T’s commitment to a particular conception of value or other comprehensive philosophical conception. Obviously, of course, this is a threshold test only: T may be acceptable in this sense, but still unacceptable overall as a theory of justice. But this would be for justice-related reasons, not because of T’s complicity with a particular comprehensive conception.
Problems: (...) there are further questions about how this threshold test should be understood. One possibility is that T represents an acceptable modus vivendi for the adherents of the various comprehensive conceptions (...). >Justice/Rawls, >Overlapping consensus/Rawls, >Overlapping consensus/Waldron.
Gaus I 97
Justice/Waldron: A theory of justice (...) is not just some set of esoteric formulas; it is supposed to be something public, something shared among the citizens as a common point of reference for their debates about the allocation of rights and responsibilities.


1. Nozick, Robert (1974) Anarchy, State and Utopia Oxford: Blackwell.

Waldron, Jeremy 2004. „Liberalism, Political and Comprehensive“. In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications.


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Waldron, Jeremy
Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004


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