JUSTICE AS

FAIRNESS

A Restatement

)

Justice as Fairness
A RESTATEMENT

John Rawls
Edited by Erin Kelly

T H E BELKNAP HARVARD

PRESS OF PRESS

UNIVERSITY

Cambridge, London, 2001

Massachusetts

England

J C 5 7 8 . : alk. I. Erin. T i d e . Kelly. 1921- Data Justice as fairness : a restatement / John R a w l s . Justice.oi'i—dc2i 00-065034 .John.C o p y r i g h t © 2001 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College All rights reserved Printed in the United States of America Library of Congress Gataloging-in-Publication Rawls. Includes bibliographical references and index. edited b y Erin Kelly.R3693 2001 32o'. cm. II. p. paper) 1. p a p e r ) — I S B N 0-674-00511-2 ( p b k . I S B N 0-674-00510-4 (cloth : alk. Fairness. 2.

For m y c h e r i s h e d friend a n d v a l u e d c o l l e a g u e . B u r t o n D r e b e n . to w h o m I o w e so m u c h .

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T h e Idea of a Weil-Ordered Society §4.Contents Editor's Foreword Preface PART xi xv i Fundamental Ideas 1 1 5 8 10 12 14 18 24 26 29 32 39 39 42 50 52 55 §1. T h e Idea o f Free and Equal Persons §8. Four Roles o f Political Philosophy §2. T h e Idea of Public Justification §10. T h e Idea of an Overlapping Consensus PART 11 Principles ofJustice §12. T h e Idea of Reflective Equilibrium §11. T h e Basic Structure as Subject: First Kind of Reason §16. T h e Idea of the Basic Structure §5. T h e Problem of Distributive Justice §15. T h r e e Basic Points §13. Relations between the Fundamental Ideas §9. Society as a Fair System of Cooperation §3. T h e Idea of the Original Position §7. Limits to O u r Inquiry §6. T h e Basic Structure as Subject: Second Kind o f Reason . T w o Principles of Justice §14.

W h o Are the Least Advantaged? §18. Grounds against the Principle of Restricted Utility §39. T h e Equal Basic Liberties Revisited §33. T h e Difference Principle: Its Meaning §19. Some Basic Contrasts between Regimes §43. T h e Circumstances of Justice §25. Grounds Falling under Publicity §36. Formal Constraints and the Veil of Ignorance §26. Objections via Counterexamples §20.Vlll Contents 57 61 66 72 74 77 80 80 84 85 8g Q4 97 101 104 106 111 115 ug 120 122 124 126 130 132 135 135 138 140 145 148 150 153 157 158 §17. T h e Argument Stressing the T h i r d Condition §30. O n Viewing Native Endowments as a C o m m o n Asset §22. T h e Original Position: T h e Set-Up §24. Entidement. Political and Comprehensive Liberalism: A Contrast §48. T h e Priority of the Basic Liberties §31. First Fundamental Comparison §28. Summary Comments on Distributive Justice and Desert PART in The Argument from the Original Position §23. Legitimate Expectations. and Desert §21. Property-Owning Democracy: Introductory Remarks §42. Grounds Falling under Stability §38. Concluding Remarks PART iv Institutions of a Just Basic Structure §41. A Note on Head Taxes and the Priority of Liberty §49. T h e Idea of Public Reason §27. Comments on Equality §40. T h e Fair Value of the Equal Political Liberties §46. Second Fundamental Comparison: Introduction §35. T h e Structure of the Argument and the Maximin Rule §29. Denial of the Fair Value for Other Basic Liberties §47. A n Objection about Aversion to Uncertainty §32. Ideas of the G o o d injustice as Fairness §44. Constitutional versus Procedural Democracy §45. Grounds Falling under Reciprocity §37. T h e Argument Stressing the Second Condition §34. Economic Institutions of a Property-Owning Democracy .

T h e Question of Stability §56. Brief Comments on Leisure T i m e PART IX 162 168 176 ljg 180 180 184 188 189 192 ig§ 198 203 v The Question of Stability §54. Addressing Marx's Critique of Liberalism §53. H o w Is Political Liberalism Possible? §58. Is Justice as Fairness Political in the Wrong Way? §57. T h e Flexibility of an Index of Primary G o o d s §52. T h e Domain of the Political §55. T h e G o o d of Political Society Index . T h e Family as a Basic Institution §51. A Reasonable Moral Psychology §60. A n Overlapping Consensus Not Utopian §59.Contents §50.

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"Justice as F a i r n e s s : P o l i t i c a l N o t M e t a p h y s i c a l . Justice as fairness thus develops a theory of justice from the idea o f a social contract. or philosophical doctrine. Political Liberalism ( N e w York: C o l u m b i a University Press. John Rawls proposed a conception of justice that he called "justice as fairness. e d . A Theory of Justice ( C a m b r i d g e . Under the political and social 3 2 1 conditions o f free institutions. 1 9 9 9 ) . 2. religious. . In "Justice as Fairness: Political N o t Metaphysical" (1985). . and only permit inequalities in wealth and income that would be to the advantage o f the least well off. rev.Editor's Foreword In A Theory of Justice (1971). Rawls began to develop the idea that an account ofjustice with liberal content is best un­ derstood as a political conception. T h e princi­ ples it articulates affirm a broadly liberal conception of basic rights and lib­ erties. 1. 1 9 7 1 . Political liberal­ ism acknowledges and responds to this "fact o f reasonable pluralism" by showing h o w a political conception canfitinto various and even conflicting comprehensive doctrines: it is a possible object o f an overlapping consen­ sus between them. 3 . : H a r v a r d U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s . " Philosophy and Public Affairs 1 4 ( S u m m e r 1985): 223-252. T h i s idea is central to Political Liberalism (1993). 1993). A political conception of justice is justi­ fied by reference to political values and should not be presented as part of a more "comprehensive" moral. we encounter a plurality o f distinct and in­ compatible doctrines. M a s s . the most reasonable principles of justice are those that w o u l d be the object o f mutual agreement by persons under fair conditions." According to justice as fairness. many of which are not unreasonable.

8 0 7 . Kant." University of Chicago Law Review 6 4 (Summer 1 9 9 7 ) : 7 6 5 . Samuel Freeman (Cambridge. except for the addition of §50 on the family. this restatement shows how it can be understood as a form of political liberalism. "Reply to Habermas. Mass. however. T h e rest. he recasts the basic arguments for the two principles of justice that are central to a conception of justice as fairness. Rous­ seau. B y 1989 the manu­ script had evolved into something close to its current form. 5 and " T h e Idea of Public Reason Revisited. It is not. In doing so. 1 9 9 9 ) .xii Editor's Foreword Developing the idea of political liberalism has led Rawls to reformulate his presentation and defense of justice as fairness. T h i s b o o k originated as lectures for a course on political philosophy that Rawls taught regularly at Harvard in the 1980s. including The Law of Peoples. ed.: Harvard University Press. Later the lectures were presented on their own. Rawls did revise the manuscript again in the early 1990s as he completed Political Liberalism. reprinted in the paperback edition of Political Liberalism ( 1 9 9 6 ) . as he had planned. Mass. 1 9 9 9 ) 5 . Whereas A Theory of Justice presented justice as fairness as part of a comprehensive liberal out­ look. works. now published. ." Journal of Philosophy 9 2 (March 1 9 9 5 ) : 1 3 2 ." an in­ troduction to the paperback edition of Political Liberalism. though not always as fully developed as in their already published form." Ideas from those works are found here. most of the manuscript was nearly com­ plete. T h e course included a study of the works o f historically important figures (Hobbes. Locke. Because of illness. Part I V reads as addenda to the more detailed and 4. T h e lectures on justice as fairness were distributed to the class in written form. and in The Law of Peoples. Rawls has been unable to rework the manuscript in its final state. "The Idea of Public Reason Re­ visited.1 8 0 . are "Reply to Habermas. which was originally to be Part V I of this restatement. Hegel. and with more time. as a more or less complete restatement of the theory ofjustice as fairness.: Harvard University Press. Mill. T h e y addressed questions not taken up in Theory. at first to supplement reading assignments from A Theory of Justice. and corrected what Rawls had come to see as mistakes in some of Theory's ar­ guments. reprinted in Col­ lected Papers. and Marx) and also presented the fundamentals of Rawls's own view. Rawls presents justice as fairness as the most reasonable form of political liberalism. Indeed. After the publication of Political Liberalism. surely Rawls would have filled out those sections and integrated them more fully with the first three parts. Still. The Law of Peoples (Cambridge. substantially different from the 1989 Rawls turned his attention to a number of other 4 version. Parts I V and V are the most unfinished.

§§55 and 57 were reversed. . References to Part V I . has been inserted between them. Using the notion o f an overlapping consen­ and the more recent sus. such as the veil o f ignorance. T h e i r critical j u d g m e n t and numerous suggestions were extremely valuable. T h r o u g h o u t . Some exposition o f basic concepts. and footnotes to those works have been added accordingly and bracketed. an idea pursued in Political Liberalism works. I am grateful for the help I received in preparing this manuscript. Percy Lehning. as well as the other parts of the book. Some sections were reordered so as to introduce basic distinc­ tions earlier. the approach to making changes has been conservative. Scanlon. and T. and §56. T h e editorial decision has been to leave them. For their useful ad­ vice. Revi­ sions were kept to a minimum and care has been taken not to alter the sub­ stance of what Rawls wrote.Editor's Foreword xiii free-standing Parts I—III. Part V argues for the stability ofjustice as fairness as a political concep­ tion of justice. I would also like to thank Arnold Davidson. has been added. M . W h a t is now §42 originally followed §50. Barbara Herman. which had been the last section of Part V. All changes were made with the author's knowledge. §47 followed §44. Where this was done. Additional changes involved the following. Although they are unfinished. both of w h o m worked through the text with me in detail. Part V is a preliminary effort to reformulate the ar­ guments for the stability of justice as fairness that were presented in Part T h r e e of A Theory of Justice. mostly un­ touched." have been removed. I would especially like to acknowledge Joshua C o h e n and Mard Rawls. the wording was drawn from A Theory of Justice and Political Liberalism. " T h e Law of Peoples. Lionel McPherson. Parts I V and V present important pieces o f the overall argument for justice as fairness.

Justice as Fairness A RESTATEMENT John Rawls THE BELKNAP PRESS OF PRESS HARVARD UNIVERSITY Cambridge. Massachusetts England 2001 . London.

b e ­ fore 1 9 9 9 . T h e s e have appeared in many subsequent foreign translations but never." Quarterly Journal of Economics 88 ( N o v e m b e r 1974): 6 3 3 . Since I still have confidence in those ideas a n d think the more important difficulties can b e met. 1999). I also re­ cast the argument at m a n y points. as I called the c o n c e p t i o n o f j u s t i c e presented in that b o o k . to correct a n u m b e r o f mistakes. O n e is to rectify the more serious faults in A Theory of Justice 1 that have o b s c u r e d the main ideas o f justice as fairness. were not available in English. References will always in­ clude the section number. I try to improve the e x p o ­ sition. e d . Therefore. pages in the first edition are indicated. the essays are not fully c o m p a t i b l e . I have undertaken this reformulation. and to indicate replies to a f e w o f the more c o m m o n objections. rev. W h e n these lectures were given. some references to Theory in this restatement may b e to discussions that d o not appear in the revised edition. "A Kantian C o n c e p t i o n o f . In 1975 I made revisions for the first foreign translation o f A Theory of Justice (1971. T h e other aim is to c o n n e c t into one unified statement the c o n c e p t i o n o f justice presented in ning w i t h 1974.6 5 5 . A l l other page references are to the revised edition.Preface In this w o r k I have t w o aims. Moreover. in English. to include some useful revisions. and it was assumed the students h a d only the original text. and ambiguities 2 1. Theory a n d the main ideas found in m y essays b e g i n ­ Theory itself w a s nearly six h u n d r e d pages and the more relevant essays (of w h i c h there are about ten) bring the total close to a thou­ sand p a g e s . In these cases. T h e revised edition rectifies that situation (it contains no further revi­ sions). . w h i c h is the same in both editions. 2. the revisions. Here I list the more relevant essays for reference: " R e p l y to A l e x a n d e r and Musgrave. some o f w h i c h address problems dis­ cussed in the lectures.

A ." Mew York Law Review 64 (June 1989): 233-255. "Fairness to Goodness. For those w h o have some acquaintance with Theory. T o explain: two examples of changes of the first kind are these: one is a quite different characterization of the equal basic liberties and their priority. ed. "The Basic Structure as Subject. 1999). and third. Hart (§13). Amartya Sen and Bernard Williams (Cambridge: Cam­ bridge University Press." these all appear in John Rawls. ed." Values and Morals. 1979). 1982)." in Utilitarianism Human and Beyond. Samuel Freeman (Cambridge. "Kantian Constructivism in Moral Theory.XVI Preface in stating various ideas—for example. changes in h o w the argument for those principles from the original position is organized. drawing on all those works. that o f an overlapping consensus— make it difficult to find a clear and consistent view. T h i s assis­ tance I try to provide b y presenting in one place an account of justice as fairness as I now see it. 3." Philosophy and Public Affairs 17 (Fall 1988): 251-276. 5th ser. Alan Goldman and Jaegwon Kim (Dordrecht: D . Sterling McMurrin (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press. "Social Unity and Primary Goods. and Society. of 1982). Mass. T h e interested reader is entitled to assistance in seeing how these essays and Theory might fit to­ gether. L . Politics. Peter Laslett and James Fishkin (New Ha­ ven: Yale University Press. Ex­ cepting "The Basic Structure as Subject" and "The Basic Liberties and Their Priority. another is a revised account of primary goods which connects them with the political and normative conception o f citizens as free and equal persons." Journal of Philosophy 77 (September 1980): 515-572. . I also try to meet objec­ tions raised by Amartya Sen (§51). sometimes by an obvious abbreviation. so that these goods no longer appear (as many pointed out to me. as a political conception of justice rather than as part of a comprehensive moral doctrine." Tanner Lectures on Values. and reprinted as "A Well-Ordered Society" in Philosophy. ed. "The Domain of the Political and Overlapping Consensus. a change required to meet the forceful criticisms raised by H . second. Collected Papers.. 1978)." Oxford Journal Legal Studies 7 (February 1987): 1-25. "The Basic Liberties and Their Priority. ed." Philosophical Review 84 (Octo­ ber 1975): 536-555. " O n the Idea of an Overlapping Consensus. changes in how justice as fairness itself is to be understood: namely. Reidel. the main changes are of three kinds: first. "Justice as Fairness: Political Not Metaphysical.: Harvard University Press. vol. ed. I have tried to make this reformulation more or less self-contained. where the revisions go and what difference they make. including Joshua C o h e n and Joshua Rabinowitz) to be specified solely on the basis o f psychology and human needs (§17). changes in the formulation and content o f the two principles of justice used in justice as fairness. These essays are occasionally noted in the footnotes of the text." Cambridge Review 96 (1975): 94-99. "On the Priority of Right and Ideas of the Good." Philosophy and Public Affairs 14 (Summer 1985): 223-252. Equality.

" Even though the problems examined in The­ ory in any detail are always the traditional and familiar ones of political and social justice. or at least not with the same meaning or significance. or partially comprehensive. We also need the ideas o f a public basis ofjustification and of public reason. and moral doctrines in order to formulate a more realistic conception of a well-ordered society. religious. In one comparison the two principles are compared with the principle o f (average) utility. the difference principle. Harsanyi and others have not unreasonably thought) on a great aver­ sion to uncertainty viewed as a psychological attitude (§§34-39). Arrow and J. this division o f the argument shows that the reasons for the difference principle do not rest (as K. §3: 15) that if justice as fairness succeeds reasonably well. as well as certain general facts o f commonsense political sociology. Besides the introduction of the idea of a p o ­ litical conception of justice itself. the appropriate reasons rest on such ideas as publicity and reciprocity. T o carry out this change in how justice as fairness is to be understood forces many other changes and re­ quires a family of further ideas not found in Theory. and for the first part of the second. T h e s e two comparisons enable us to separate the reasons for the first principle of justice. some o f which are accounted for by what I call the burdens o f judgment. the next step would be to study the more general view suggested by the name "lightness as fairness. Theory never discusses whether justice as fairness is a com­ prehensive moral doctrine or a political conception of justice. w e need the idea o f an overlapping con­ sensus of comprehensive. J. again an idea not used in Theory. . T h i s restatement removes that ambiguity: justice as fairness is now pre­ sented as a political conception of justice.T h a t would be a very weak argument. In contrast to what the exposition in Theory may suggest. philosophi­ cal.Preface xvii T h e main change of the second kind is a division o f the argument from the original position for the two principles of justice into two fundamental comparisons. In the other comparison the two principles are compared with a modification o f themselves formed by substituting for the difference principle the principle o f (average) utility constrained by a mini­ mum. covering the basic liberties. C . given the fact of pluralism o f such doctrines in a lib­ eral democracy. from the reasons for the other part o f the second principle. In one place it says {Theory. Rather. the reader can reasonably conclude that justice as fairness was set out as part of a comprehensive moral doctrine that might be devel­ oped later should success encourage the attempt. that o f fair equality o f opportunity. Changes o f the third kind arise in clarifying h o w justice as fairness is to be understood.

should re­ quire a family o f further ideas. Mardy. philosophical. I must express my deepest appreciation to Erin Kelly and my wife. October 2000 . the ideas of public reason and of a public basis of justification. of the kinds of changes they will find in this brief restatement. T h e s e doctrines usually have their own ideas of reason and justification. w e must keep track o f different points o f view if justice as fairness (or any political conception) is to have any chance of gaining the support of an overlapping consensus. T h e latter ideas must be specified in a way that is appropriately political and hence distinct from the parallel ideas of com­ prehensive doctrines. T h e i r aim is simply to give an indication. but to all o f them I am deeply indebted. Finally. namely. T h e meaning of these remarks will not be clear at this point. w h o made completion of the b o o k possible de­ spite my declining health. to those already familiar with Theory. I also wish to thank Maud W i l c o x for her sensitive editing o f the 1989 ver­ sion of the text. Given the fact of reasonable pluralism (as I shall call it). T h e y are too numerous to mention here. T h e explanation is that now w e must always distinguish between the political conception and various comprehensive doctrines. and not as part of a comprehensive doctrine. So likewise does justice as fair­ ness as a political conception. religious. it may seem surprising that viewing justice as fairness as a po­ litical conception.xviii Preface Offhand. and moral. A s always. I am grateful to many o f my colleagues and students for their thoughtful and helpful commentaries and criticisms over the years.

JUSTICE AS FAIRNESS A Restatement ) .

Justice as Fairness A RESTATEMENT John Rawls THE BELKNAP PRESS OF PRESS HARVARD UNIVERSITY Cambridge. Massachusetts England 2001 . London.

W e b e g i n b y distinguishing four roles that political p h i l o s o p h y may have as part o f a society's p u b l i c political culture. T h e r e are l o n g periods in the history of any society d u r i n g w h i c h certain basic questions lead to d e e p and sharp conflict and it seems difficult if not impossible to find any reasoned c o m m o n g r o u n d for political agreement. T o illustrate. recall the extensive debates b e t w e e n Federalists and Anti-Federalists in 1 7 8 7 . one historical origin of liberalism is the Wars o f Religion in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries following the Reformation. .8 8 over ratification of the C o n s t i t u ­ tion. F o u r R o l e s o f Political P h i l o s o p h y l . and h o w the question of the extension o f slavery in the years before the Civil W a r called forth fundamental discussions of that institution and of the nature of the u n i o n b e t w e e n the states. C o n s i d e r first its practical role arising from divisive political conflict and the n e e d to settle the p r o b ­ lem o f order. T o illustrate in o u r o w n case h o w divisive c o n ­ flict may lead to political philosophy. H o b b e s ' s Leviathan (1652)—surely the great­ est w o r k o f political p h i l o s o p h y in English—is c o n c e r n e d w i t h the p r o b l e m of order d u r i n g the turmoil o f the E n g l i s h civil war. w h i c h eventually led to the formulation and often reluc­ tant acceptance of some form of the principle of toleration. and so also is L o c k e ' s Second Treatise (also 1689). T h e views in Locke's Letter on Toleration (1689) and M o n t e s q u i e u ' s The Spirit of Laws (1748) have a l o n g prehistory. l . these divisions o p e n e d a l o n g controversy about the right o f resistance and lib­ erty o f c o n s c i e n c e .PART I Fundamental Ideas §1.

in. T h i s conflict is rooted not only in differences of social and economic in­ terests but also in differences between general political. and how any particular way of ordering them is to be justified. and ed. some underlying basis of philosophical and moral agreement can be uncovered. T h i s overstylized contrast brings out the depth of the conflict. perhaps the divergence of philosophical and moral opinion at the root of divisive political differences can at least be narrowed so that social cooperation on a footing of mutual respect among citizens can still be main­ tained. h o w they are to be ordered and weighed against each other. trans. and so­ cial theories about h o w institutions work. T h e r e is a divide between the tradition derived from Locke.2 I. certain basic rights of the person and of property. O n e is that political philosophy may contrib­ ute to h o w a people think of their political and social institutions as a whole. Debates over the last two centuries or so make plain that there is no public agreement on how basic institutions are to be arranged so as to be most appropriate to the freedom and equality of democratic citizenship. O r if such a basis o f agreement cannot be found. despite appearances. let's say—is to focus on deeply disputed questions and to see whether. then.2. Here we focus on another root of the conflict: the different philosophical and moral doctrines that deal with how the competing claims of liberty and equality are to be under­ stood. 1 . Political Writings. which stresses what Constant called "the liberties of the moderns"—freedom of thought and liberty of conscience. T h e phrase "liberties of the an­ cients" refers to the liberties of native-born male citizens specified by the rights of political participation in the Athenian democracy at. the time of Pericles. Moreover. T o fix ideas. as well as in different views about the probable consequences of public policies. and the rule of law—and the tradition derived from Rousseau. the members of any civilized society l. Biancamaria Fontana (New York/ Cam­ bridge University Press.1 8 3 0 . consider the conflict between the claims of liberty and the claims of equality in the tradition of democratic thought. that one task of political philosophy—its practical role. 1 9 8 8 ) . economic. and their basic aims and purposes as a society with a history—a na­ tion—as opposed to their aims and purposes as individuals. See "Liberty of the Ancients Compared with That of the Moderns" ( 1 8 1 9 ) . Benja­ min Constant. which stresses what Constant called "the liberties of the ancients"—the equal political liberties and the values of public life. FUNDAMENTAL IDEAS We suppose. say. 1. or as members of families and associations.1 note briefly three other roles of political philosophy which we con­ sider further as we proceed. Constant's dates: 1 7 6 7 .

and by showing h o w those ends can cohere within a well-articulated conception of a just and reasonable society. PreuBischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. vol. reason is similarly the faculty of orientation as . is that of reconciliation: political philosophy may try to calm our frustration and rage against our society and its history by showing us the way in which its institutions. say. see §§2. stressed by Hegel in his Philosophy of Right (1821). T h u s I believe that a democratic society is not and cannot be a com­ munity. as a work of reason. A third role. 1. 23. We shall be concerned with this role of political philosophy in several re­ spects. and in their views of the moral and aesthetic values to be sought in human life. not merely to be resigned to it. that of equal citizenship— and how this status affects their relation to their social world. very briefly characterized in the text. the world looks rationally back. T h i s fits one of Hegel's well-known sayings: " W h e n we l o o k at the world rationally. or partially comprehensive. of all possible ends. does this by specifying principles to iden­ tify reasonable and rational ends of those various kinds. rational form. and developed over time as they did to attain their pres­ ent. 3 2 2.I." H e seeks for us reconciliation—Versbhnung—that is. For the meaning of "reasonable" as used in the text. political and social. where by a community I mean a body o f persons united in af­ firming the same comprehensive. Political philosophy. T h i s need political philosophy may try to answer. But this fact is not always easy to accept. are rational. Four Roles of Political Philosophy 3 need a conception that enables them to understand themselves as members having a certain political status—in a democracy. 1912). individual and associational.11. 8 (Berlin. w e are to accept and affirm our so­ cial world positively. 3.3. doctrine. For him. w h e n properly understood from a philosophical point of view. T h e idea is that it belongs to reason and reflection (both theoretical and practical) to orient us in the (conceptual) space. T h e fact of reasonable pluralism which characterizes a society with free institu­ tions makes this impossible. T h e term and its meaning is suggested by Kant's use of it in his essay "Was Heisst: Sich im Denken orientieren?" Kant's gesammelte Schriften. Such a conception may offer a unified framework within which proposed answers to divisive questions can be made consis­ tent and the insights gained from different kinds of cases can be brought to bear on one another and extended to other cases. T h i s is the fact of profound and irreconcilable differences in citizens' reasonable comprehensive religious and philosophi­ cal conceptions o f the world. and this role I call that of orientation.

From time to time we must ask whether justice as fairness.4 I. political society is not. and thus of being ideological in Marx's sense. as opposed to conditions in other historical ages when people are often said to have been united (though per­ haps they never have been) in affirming one comprehensive conception. namely. Rather we simply find ourselves in a particular political society at a certain moment of historical time. democratic regime is possible. We do not enter it voluntarily. then we can say without pretense and fakery that citizens are indeed free and equal. O u r hope for the future of our society rests on the belief that the social world allows at least a decent political order. and cannot be. We then try to formulate principles of political justice such that if the basic structure of society—the main political and social institutions and the way they fit together as one scheme of cooperation—satisfies those prin­ ciples. is not free. where those engaged in cooperation are viewed as free and equal citizens and normal cooperating members of society over a com­ plete life. In what sense. We might think our presence in it.4. as probing the limits of practica­ ble political possibility. though not perfect. or any other view. an association. Again. and if not. can citizens of a de­ mocracy be free? O r as w e shall ask eventually. So we ask: W h a t would a just democratic society be like under reasonably favor­ able but still possible historical conditions. conditions allowed by the laws and tendencies of the social world? W h a t ideals and principles would such a society try to realize given the circumstances of justice in a democratic culture as we know them? T h e s e circumstances include the fact of reason­ able pluralism. T h e fourth role is a variation of the previous one. FUNDAMENTAL IDEAS and political philosophy may try to reconcile us to it by showing us the rea­ son and indeed the political good and benefits o f it. then. as a fair system o f cooperation over time from one gen­ eration to the next. what is the outer limit of our freedom (§26)? O n e can try to deal with this question by viewing political society in a certain way. why not? Are the very basic ideas it uses ideological? How can we show they are not? . We view political philosophy as realistically Utopian: that is. 4. 4 1. is ideological in this way. T h i s condition is permanent as it persists indefinitely under free democratic institutions. T h e fact of reasonable pluralism limits what is practicably possible un­ der the conditions of our social world. T h e idea of political philosophy as reconciliation must be invoked with care. For polit­ ical philosophy is always in danger of being used corrupdy as a defense of an unjust and un­ worthy status quo. our being here. so that a reasonably just.

Everything depends on how the exposition works out as a whole and whether the ideas and principles of this conception ofjustice. Society as a Fair System of Cooperation 2. for w e can to a greater or lesser extent change political and social institutions. one practicable aim of justice as fairness is to pro­ vide an acceptable philosophical and moral basis for democratic institu­ tions and thus to address the question o f how the claims o f liberty and equality are to be understood. as well as its conclusions. T h e most fundamental idea in this conception of justice is the idea o f society as a fair system o f social cooperation over time from one generation to the next {Theory. T o show that it is not. and the like.1. However. there is a question about h o w the limits o f the practicable are dis­ cerned and what the conditions o f our social world in fact are. and to the traditions o f interpretation o f its constitution and basic laws. T o this end w e look to the public political culture o f a democratic society. in debates about the meaning and ground o f constitutional rights and liberties. O f course. I shall not pursue this deep question here. a society effectively regulated by a public conception of justice (§3). the problem here is that the limits o f the possible are not given b y the actual. We use this idea as the central organizing idea in trying to develop a political conception of justice for a democratic regime. . T h e s e are: the idea o f citizens (those engaged in coopera­ tion) as free and equal persons (§7). and the idea o f a well-ordered society. 5 Some of these familiar ideas are more basic than others. T h e exposition of justice as fairness starts with these familiar ideas. that is.2. for certain familiar ideas that can be worked up into a conception o f political justice. prove acceptable on due reflection. A s I said above. T h i s central idea is worked out in conjunction with two companion fun­ damental ideas. A s indicated above. A Fair System of Cooperation 5 Eventually we want to ask whether the fact o f reasonable pluralism is a his­ torical fate w e should lament. would be to reconcile us in part to our condition. § i : 4). and much else. T h o s e w e use to organize and to give structure to justice as fairness as a whole I count as fundamental ideas. But because the exposition begins with these ideas does not mean that the argument for justice as fairness simply assumes them as a basis. or that it has its very considerable benefits. In this way we connect it with the common sense of everyday life. See §10. §2. It is assumed that citizens in a demo­ cratic society have at least an implicit understanding o f these ideas as shown in everyday political discussion. these fundamental intuitive ideas are viewed as being 5 .

w o r k to deny any recognized class or group its basic rights and liberties. for example. or to acknowledge w h e n . and sometimes should accept. its citizens do not regard their social order as a fixed natural order. T h a t a democratic society is often viewed as a system o f social cooperation is suggested by the fact that from a political point o f view. 2. (c) T h e idea of cooperation also includes the idea of each participant's rational advantage. T h e central organizing idea o f social cooperation has at least three essential features: (a) Social cooperation is distinct from merely socially coordinated ac­ tivity—for example. as I shall refer to them. provided that everyone else likewise ac­ cepts them. reasonable persons are ready to propose. Even though such ideas are not often expressly formulated. Rather. N o r do they think a political party may prop­ erly. social cooperation is guided by publicly recognized rules and procedures w h i c h those cooperating accept as appropriate to regulate their conduct. T h e idea o f rational advantage specifies what it is that those engaged in cooperation are seeking to advance from the standpoint of their o w n good. A s applied to the simplest case. namely to persons engaged in co­ operation and situated as equals in relevant respects (or symmetrically. T h r o u g h o u t I shall make a distinction between the reasonable and the rational. activity coordinated by orders issued by an ab­ solute central authority. (b) T h e idea of cooperation includes the idea of fair terms of coopera­ tion: these are terms each participant may reasonably accept. or mutuality: all w h o do their part as the recognized rules require are to benefit as specified by a public and agreed-upon standard.6 I. for snort). Fair terms of cooperation specify an idea o f reciprocity. and in the con­ text o f the public discussion o f basic questions of political right. or as an institu­ tional structure justified by religious doctrines or hierarchical principles ex­ pressing aristocratic values. by courts and in historical or other texts regarded as being of enduring significance.2. nor their meanings clearly marked out. they may play a fundamental role in society's political thought and in how its institutions are interpreted. as a matter of its declared program. FUNDAMENTAL IDEAS familiar from the public political culture o f a democratic society. or good. T h e s e are basic and complementary ideas entering into the fundamental idea o f society as a fair system o f social c o o p ­ eration.

See §23. A Fair System of Cooperation 7 proposed b y others. For it may be that some have a superior political power or are placed in more fortu­ nate circumstances. even at the expense o f their o w n inter­ ests as circumstances may require. It is unreasonable not to be ready to propose such principles. In ev­ eryday life w e imply this distinction. in general. It is of central importance in understanding the structure of justice as fairness. Scanlon's general contractualist moral theory.2. See his "Contractualism and Utilitarianism. C o m m o n sense views the reasonable but not. T h e role o f the principles of justice (as part of a political conception of justice) is to specify the fair terms o f social cooperation (Theory. or not to honor fair terms o f cooperation that others may rea­ sonably be expected to accept. M ." >n Utilitarianism and Beyond. Yet while it is unreasonable. to propose or honor them but is ready to violate them to one's advantage as the occasion permits. the principles o f a democratic conception o f justice may be viewed as specifying the fair terms o f cooperation between citizens so conceived.2 and §23. provided others likewise may be ex­ pected to honor them. These principles specify the basic rights and duties to b e assigned b y the main political and social institutions. given their superior bargaining position. it may be rational for those so placed to take advantage o f their situation. §1). ed. 1982). 6 2. T h a t question is: what is the most acceptable p o 6. Sibley in " T h e Rational versus the Reasonable. By way o f these specifications. but unreasonable all the same. Since in a democratic society citizens are regarded from the point o f view o f the political conception as free and equal persons. in distinguishing between the persons in question as equals. _ . in general. as well as T. or pretends. it is not. as when w e say of certain people that." Philosophical Review 62 (October 1953): 554 56o.3.3. the principles of justice provide a re­ sponse to the fundamental question o f political philosophy for a constitu­ tional democratic regime. Amartya Sen and Bernard Williams (Cambridge: Cam­ bridge University Press. From time to time we come back to the distinction between the reasonable and the rational. the rational as a moral idea involving moral sensibility. not rational. their proposal is perfecdy rational. it is worse than unreasonable if one merely seems. let us as­ sume. M . T h e text connects the distinction closely with the idea of cooperation among equals and specifies it accordingly for this more definite idea. the principles needed to specify what can be seen b y all as fair terms of cooperation. and they regulate the division of bene­ fits arising from social cooperation and allot the burdens necessary to sus­ tain it. and though these conditions are irrelevant. This kind of distinction between the reasonable and the rational was made by W. Reasonable persons also understand that they are to honor these principles.

It is also the focus of the present conflict between liberalism and con­ servative views over the claims of private property and the legitimacy (as opposed to the effectiveness) of social policies associated with the so-called welfare state. its main political and social institutions and the way they hang together as one system of coopera- 7.8 I.1 say "so-called welfare state" because Part IV distinguishes between a property-own­ ing democracy and a capitalist welfare state and maintains that the latter conflicts with jus­ tice as fairness. . the fundamental idea of a well-ordered society—a society effectively regulated by a public conception of justice—is a compan­ ion idea used to specify the central organizing idea o f society as a fair sys­ tem of cooperation. from one generation to the next? T h i s question is fun­ damental because it has been the focus of the liberal critique of monarchy and aristocracy and of the socialist critique of liberal constitutional democ­ racy. 7 In using the conception o f citizens as free and equal persons w e abstract from various features of the social world and idealize in certain ways. and implied by the idea of a public conception of justice. A s stated in §2. w e do not try to answer any question except the fundamental question stated above. and (we add) as normal and fully cooperating members of society over a complete life.1. and knows that everyone else accepts.1. N o w to say that a political society is well ordered con­ veys three things: First. T h i s brings out one role of abstract conceptions: they are used to gain a clear and uncluttered view of a question seen as fundamental by focusing on the more significant elements that w e think are most relevant in determining its most appropriate answer. T h e Idea of a Well-Ordered Society 3. and implied by the idea of effective regulation b y a public con­ ception of justice. FUNDAMENTAL IDEAS litical conception of justice for specifying the fair terms o f cooperation between citizens regarded as free and equal and as both reasonable and ra­ tional. Moreover. §3. it is a so­ ciety in which everyone accepts. society's basic structure—that is. this knowledge is mutually recognized: that is. Second. the very same political conception of justice (and so the same principles of p o ­ litical justice). Unless explicitly stated otherwise. people k n o w everything they w o u l d know if their acceptance of those prin­ ciples were a matter of public agreement.

T h e idea o f a well-ordered society has two meanings. In a well-ordered society. whatever that concep­ tion may be. and for the most part to act accordingly as their position in society. for example.2. O n e reason w e form this idea is that an important question about a conception ofjustice for a democratic society is whether. requires.1: a well-ordered society is a society effectively regu­ lated by some public (political) conception of justice. in some way seriously defective. and also implied by the idea of effective regulation. one that enables them to under­ stand and apply the publicly recognized principles of justice. A Well-Ordered Society 9 tion—is publicly known. T h e idea of a well-ordered society helps to for­ mulate that criterion and to specify further the central organizing idea of so­ cial cooperation. But the idea has a particular meaning when we refer to the well-ordered society of a particular conception of justice.5. Its general mean­ ing is given above in §3. a well-ordered society in which all its members accept the same comprehensive doctrine is impossible. or with good reason believed. T h e suitability of a conception ofjustice for a well-ordered society provides an important criterion for comparing politi­ cal conceptions of justice. A political concep­ tion of justice that could not fulfill this public role must be. a particular natural rights doctrine. to satisfy those prin­ ciples of justice. that is. Note that. T h i r d . citizens have a normally effective sense of justice. given the fact of reasonable pluralism. it can serve as the publicly recognized and mutually acknowledged concep­ tion of justice when society is viewed as a system o f cooperation between free and equal citizens from one generation to the next. then. Political liberalism holds that this provides a sufficient as well as the most reasonable basis of social unity available to us as citizens of a democratic society. as when w e say that all members of society accept and know that all the others accept the same political conception of justice. But dem­ ocratic citizens holding different comprehensive doctrines may agree on political conceptions of justice. . the public conception of justice provides a mutually recognized point of view from w h i c h citizens can adjudicate their claims o f political right on their political institutions or against one another. or justice as fairness. T h e idea of a well-ordered society is plainly a very considerable ide­ alization. or a form of utilitarianism. and h o w well. with its duties and obligations. it seems. 3.

T h e Idea of the Basic Structure 4. §2). and the struc­ ture o f the economy (for example. T h e idea of the basic structure may be seen in that light.2. the legally recognized forms o f property. and the way they assign basic rights and duties and regulate the division of advantages that arises from social c o o p ­ eration over time (Theory. 4. as a system o f competitive markets with private property in the means o f production). churches. See Part IV. Clearly the two principles of justice (§13) with their political liberties are not supposed to regulate the internal organization of churches and uni­ versities. A s indicated above in §3. and character. Another fundamental idea is the idea of the basic structure (of a wellordered society). It does so in part because the effects o f the basic structure on citizens' aims. its principles regulate this structure and do not apply directiy to or regulate internally institutions and associations within society. §2: 6). A just basic structure secures what w e may call back­ ground justice. T h e political constitution with an inde­ pendent judiciary.1. O u r focus is almost entirely on the basic structure as the subject of p o ­ litical and social justice. 8 . A l o n g with the idea of the original position (§6). 8. as well as on their opportunities and their ability to take ad­ vantage of them. but these constraints arise indirectly from just background institutions within which associations and groups exist. T h i s idea is introduced so as to formulate and present justice as fairness as having an appropriate unity. FUNDAMENTAL IDEAS §4. Firms and labor unions. §50. Nor is the difference principle to govern how parents are to treat their children or to allocate the family's wealth among them.10 I. are pervasive and present from the beginning of fife (§§1516). and b y which the conduct of their members is restricted. O n e main feature of justice as fairness is that it takes the basic struc­ ture as the primary subject o f political justice (Theory. it is needed to complete other ideas and to order them into a perspicuous whole. Since justice as fairness starts with the special case of the basic structure. as well as the family in some form. the basic structure of society is the way in which the main political and social institutions o f society fit together into one system of social cooperation. and the family are b o u n d by constraints aris­ ing from the principles of justice. universities. all belong to the basic structure. on the family. T h e basic structure is the back­ ground social framework within w h i c h the activities o f associations and in­ dividuals take place. T h i s seems obvious in most cases. aspirations.

special provisions are needed in family law (and no doubt elsewhere) so that the burden o f bearing. in preserving its culture and in reproducing itself over time. thereby undermining their fair equality of oppor­ tunity. . for instance. 1999). 9 Altogether then w e have three levels o f justice. global justice (principles apply­ ing to international law). 10 N o attempt will be made here to deal systematically with local justice. the basic structure and the associations and social forms within it are each governed by distinct principles in view o f their different aims and purposes and their peculiar nature and special requirements. The Basic Structure 11 For example. they cannot burn them. local justice (principles applying direcdy to institu­ tions and associations). T h e law o f peoples has been dis­ cussed elsewhere.4. See Rawls. While the principles of justice as fairness impose limits on these social arrangements within the basic structure. O n e should not assume in advance that principles that are reasonable and just for the basic structure are also reasonable and just for institutions. Justice as fairness starts with domestic justice— the justice of the basic structure.: Harvard University Press. they must respect the rights o f their children (which the latter have as prospec­ tive citizens) and cannot. Justice as fair­ ness is a political. Moreover. second. Mass. deprive them o f essential medical care. w>. domestic . and social practices generally. moving from in­ side outward: first. conception of justice: it applies first to the basic structure and sees these other questions of local justice and also ques­ tions of global justice (what I call the law o f peoples) as calling for separate consideration on their merits. raising. to establish equality between men and w o m e n in sharing the work of society. Parents (women equally with men) are equal citizens and have equal basic rights including the right o f property. not a general. T h e principles o f justice to be followed directly by associations and institutions within the basic structure w e may call principles of local j u s ­ tice. Universities cannot discriminate in certain ways: this constraint is to help to establish fair equality o f opportunity.justice (principles applying to the basic structure o f society). and educating children does not fall more heavily on women. while churches can excommunicate heretics. In general. and finally. 1992). The Law of Peoples (Cambridge. this constraint is to secure liberty of conscience. From there it works outward to the law of peoples and inward to local justice. associations. principles for the basic structure constrain (or 9-1 follow here Jon Elster's illuminating work. Local Justice (New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

such a consensus. Rather. FUNDAMENTAL IDEAS limit).1 am indebted to Erin Kelly for discussion on the points in this and the preceding paragraph. Before discussing the other fundamental ideas of justice as fairness. since justice as fairness presents itself as a possible focus o f a reasonable overlapping consensus (§11). or aspects thereof. is that we must fix on the basic structure as the primary subject of political justice and leave aside questions o f local justice.1. T h e first limit. . So generally stated. With this done.3. if not encourage. but these matters w e try to answer as we take up a wider range o f questions. w e start with a loose characterization of what is initially a rough idea. A s indicated above. We view justice as fairness not as a comprehensive moral doctrine but as a political conception to apply to that structure of political and social institutions. w e then check how the more definite characterization coheres with our considered convictions on due reflection. belong to it. not only would we go be­ y o n d what that rough idea could reasonably contain but w e would also risk wrongly prejudging what more specific or future conditions may call for. and since the basic structure is the primary subject of justice. the boundaries and aspects of this structure must eventually be drawn and specified in ways that. 11. thus making justice as fairness unable to adjust to different social circum­ stances. 11 Finally. as has been indicated.12 I. to anticipate. T h e role of a political conception ofjustice. is not to say exacdy h o w these questions are to be setded. 4. § 5 . Limits to Our Inquiry 5. the suitable principles of local justice. if possi­ ble. at least permit. let us note some limits to our inquiry. however. but do not determine uniquely. Note that our characterization of the basic structure does not pro­ vide a sharp definition. from w h i c h w e can tell what social ar­ rangements. Were w e to lay d o w n a definition of the basic structure that draws sharp boundaries. but to set out a framework of thought within w h i c h they can be approached. they must usually be informed b y an awareness o f those more specific circumstances. For our judgments to be reasonable. or criterion. w e must specify the idea more exacdy as seems best after considering a variety of particular questions. it is not evident what this condition requires.

p. constitutional regime might be like. for our purposes. We ask in effect what a perfecdy just. each people main­ taining a well-ordered and decent political (domestic) regime. w e called the fundamental ques­ tion of political philosophy (§2. 12 x A just world order is perhaps best seen as a society of peoples. We focus on ideal theory because the current conflict in democratic thought is in good part a conflict about what conception of justice is most appropriate for a democratic society under reasonably favorable conditions. and so abides by. Limits to Our Inquiry 13 T h e second limit is that w e are concerned for the most part with the na­ ture and content ofjustice for a well-ordered society. 16: "today no unit smaller than a country can provide the condi­ tions necessary for a good life.5. §22). h o w far in our world (given its laws and tenden­ cies) a democratic regime can attain complete realization o f its appropriate political values—democratic perfection. Observe. not necessar­ ily democratic but fully respecting basic human rights. Nevertheless. . In this way. while no unit larger than a country is likely to be as democrat­ ically governed as a modern polyarchy. and so about difficult cases o f how to deal with existing injustices. or strict compliance. Dahl puts it in Dilemmas of Pluralist Democracy (New Haven: Yale University Press. I assume Kant's view ("Perpetual Peace" ( 795)) is correct and that a world government w o u l d be either an oppres­ sive global despotism or a fragile empire torn by frequent civil wars as sepa­ rate regions and cultures tried to win their political autonomy. nor how the extension ofjustice as fairness to these relations illustrates the way in which it is suitably universal. conditions. is that we shall not here discuss the important question of the just relations between peoples. T h i s is clear from what. theory." 13. the idea o f a well-ordered society should also provide some guidance in thinking about nonideal the­ ory. mentioned before. A third limit to our inquiry. 1982). that is. Strict compliance means that (nearly) everyone strictly complies with. A s Robert A . and so under realistic. if you like.3). though.T h i s larger topic is discussed at length in The Law of Peoples. though reasonably favorable. or nearly just. and whether it may come about and be made stable under the circumstances o f justice (Theory. Discussion of this case is referred to injustice as fairness as ideal. the principles of justice. It should also help to clarify the goal of reform and to identify which wrongs are more grievous and hence more urgent to correct. 13 Injustice as fairness the question of justice between peoples is post­ poned until we have an account of political justice for a well-ordered demo­ cratic society. that beginning with the justice of the basic 12. justice as fairness is realistically Utopian: it probes the limits of the realisti­ cally practicable.

the other is the idea of citizens as free and equal persons. which is but a part of the domain o f the moral. In this respect it is much narrower in scope than comprehensive philosophical moral doctrines such as utilitarianism. as if this structure were merely another subject to which that comprehensive view is to be applied. 14 say. say. Let us begin with h o w w e might be led to the original position and the reasons for using it. T h i s order I assume to be viewed as objective as in some form of moral realism. Political philoso­ phy has its own distinctive features and problems. . It focuses on the political (in the form of the basic structure). perfectionism.2. and the idea of the basic structure of society. N o r is it to be regarded as the application o f such a doctrine to the basic structure of society. Neither political philosophy nor j u s ­ tice as fairness is.1. the idea o f a society as a fair system o f cooperation and the idea of a well-ordered society. and intuitionism. I stress a point implicit in what w e have said: namely. by G o d ' s law? O r are these terms recognized b y everyone as fair by reference to a moral order o f values. in that way. by rational intuition. T h e two parts of a more complete political conception—the j u s ­ tice of domestic society as well as o f the relations between societies—can be adjusted to each other in the course of working them out. Justice as fairness is a political conception of justice for the special case o f the basic structure of a modern democratic society. For example: A r e they specified by an authority distinct from the persons cooperating. §6. or moral doctrine—one that applies to all subjects and covers all values. N e x t we discuss two other fundamental ideas. that justice as fairness is not a comprehensive religious. introduced in Theory.14 I. T h e sixth fundamental idea.2 . T h e Idea of the Original Position 6. applied moral philosophy. Finally. §§3-4. T h e following line o f thought might lead us to it: w e start with the organizing idea of society as a fair system of cooperation be­ tween free and equal persons. among others. § § i . O n e is the idea of the original position. philosophical. FUNDAMENTAL IDEAS structure does not imply that w e cannot revise our account for a democratic society (domestic justice) in view of what justice between peoples turns out to require. S o far we have discussed three fundamental ideas introduced in The­ ory. 5. is discussed in §§9-10. or by reference to what some 14. that of public justification. Immediately the question arises as to h o w the fair terms of cooperation are specified.

sex. S o far. T h e difficulty is this: w e must specify a point o f view from which a fair agreement between free and equal persons can be reached. whether or not the con­ tract is social. citizens cannot agree on any moral authority. but this point of view must be removed from and not distorted b y the par­ ticular features and circumstances o f the existing basic structure. S o what better alternative is there than an agreement between citizens themselves reached under conditions that are fair for all? 6.2. T h e origi­ nal position. §24)5 specifies this point o f view. Clearly. T h e y also d o not know persons' race and ethnic group. O n e reason it does this is that. We express these limits on in­ formation figuratively b y saying the parties are behind a veil of ignorance. or various native endowments such as strength and intelligence. p p . threats o f force and coercion. and so on must be ruled out. so good. all within the normal range. But agreements in everyday life are made in deter­ minate situations within the background institutions o f the basic structure. and the particular features o f these situations affect the terms o f the agree­ ments reached. the terms agreed to will not be regarded as fair. given the assumption o f reason­ able pluralism. these conditions must situate free and equal per­ sons fairly and must not permit some to have unfair bargaining advantages over others. the parties are not allowed to know the social positions or the particular comprehensive doctrines o f the persons they represent. 15 15. T h e s e considerations are fa­ miliar from everyday life. say a sacred text or a religious institution or tradition. Further. The Original Position 15 have viewed as "natural law"? O r are they settled by an agreement reached by free and equal citizens engaged in cooperation. In the original position. deception and fraud. N o r can they agree about a moral order o f values or the dictates of what some view as natural law. N o w this agreement. or g o o d ? Justice as fairness adopts a form o f the last answer: the fair terms o f so­ cial cooperation are to be given by an agreement entered into by those en­ gaged in it. 1993). Here w e face a serious difficulty for any political con­ ception of justice that uses the idea o f contract.[See Rawls. Justice as fairness hopes to extend the idea of a fair agreement to the ba­ sic structure itself. and made in view o f what they regard as their reciprocal advantage. unless those situations satisfy the conditions for valid and fair agreements. In particular. Political Liberalism (New York: Columbia University Press.] .6. S4-S5. with the feature I have called the "veil o f ignorance" (Theory. like any other. must be entered into under cer­ tain conditions if it is to b e a valid agreement from the point of view of p o ­ litical justice.

since w e do not suppose the agreement has ever. Hence the name: justice as fairness. rather than a particular form of government. as stated in Theory. and also from the contract views of Robert Nozick in Anarchy.16 I. as in Locke. (ii) It is nonhistorical. It does so by making the ob­ j e c t of agreement the first principles ofjustice for the basic structure. and social circumstance and native endowment. 1986). then. the agreement in the original posi­ tion specifies the fair terms of social cooperation between citizens regarded as such persons. the original position generalizes the fa­ miliar idea of the social contract (Theory. 1974). and opportunities.1. as secured by the basic structure. liberties. T h u s any agreement made by the parties as citizens' representatives is fair. not what they have agreed to. It differs from Locke's view in this respect. or native endowments) is not the basis o f political justice. 16 6. since w e ask what the parties (as described) could. in ways excluded by justice as fairness. §3). depend on con­ tingencies of history. and Utopia (New York: Basic Books. and of David Gauthier in Morals by Agreement (Oxford: Oxford University Press. (i) It is hypothetical. 1975). as the answer to the question of h o w to extend the idea o f a fair agreement to an agreement on principles o f political justice for the basic structure. Since the content of the agreement concerns the prin­ ciples of justice for the basic structure. and as properly informed and rational. T h a t position is set up as a situation that is fair to the parties as free and equal. T h e idea o f the original position is proposed. State. T h i s is an essential feature of justice as fairness as a form of the contract doctrine. FUNDAMENTAL IDEAS O n e reason w h y the original position must abstract from the contingen­ cies—the particular features and circumstances of persons—within the ba­ sic structure is that the conditions for a fair agreement between free and equal persons on the first principles of justice for that structure must elimi­ nate the bargaining advantages that inevitably arise over time within any so­ ciety as a result of cumulative social and historical tendencies. Observe that. T h e original position is also more abstract: the agreement must be regarded as both hypothetical and nonhistorical. " T o persons according to their threat advantage" (or their de facto political power. In these three works citizens' basic rights.3. Contin­ gent historical advantages and accidental influences from the past should not affect an agreement on principles that are to regulate the basic structure from the present into the future. of James Buchanan in The Limits of Liberty (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. or wealth. or would. 16. . agree to. We come back to this in §16.

Mass. the alternatives open to them. Here there may seem to be a serious objection: since hypotheti­ cal agreements are not binding at all. in that case.: Harvard University Press. situated in fair condi­ tions. and appropriate restrictions on reasons). . it models what w e regard—here and now—as acceptable restric­ tions on the reasons on the basis of which the parties. T h e second point (ii) means that what principles the parties would agree to is to be decided by analysis. are to agree to the fair terms o f cooperation whereby the basic struc­ ture is to be regulated. a thought-experiment for the purpose of public. 4oof. Sam­ uel Freeman (Cambridge. reprinted in Rawls. viewed solely as free and equal per­ sons. T h i s is because. ed. alternatively." Philosophy and Public Affairs 14 (Summer 1985): 236f. w e conjecture that the principles o f justice the parties w o u l d agree to (could w e properly work them out) w o u l d specify the terms o f cooperation that w e regard—here and now—as fair and supported by the best reasons. 6. 1999).1 have discussed his interpretation briefly in "Justice as Fairness: Political Not Metaphysical. as chap. 1977). it models what w e regard—here and now—as fair conditions under which the representatives of citizens. We are to think of it as modeling two things: First.and self-clarification.: Harvard University Press." University of Chicago Law Review (1973). the original position w o u l d have succeeded in modeling in a suitable 17. W e return to this in Part III.. n. reprinted in Taking Rights Seriously (Cambridge. T h i s question is discussed by Ronald Dworkin in §1 of his critical review entitled 'Justice and Rights. 17 In reply. the significance of the original position lies in the fact that it is a device of representation or. Mass.6. n. 19.4. Second. may properly put forward certain principles o f political justice and reject others. The Original Position 17 or indeed ever could actually be entered into. T h u s if the original position suitably models our convictions about these two things (namely. A n d even if it could. 6. Collected Papers. fair conditions o f agreement between citizens as free and equal. the agreement o f the parties in the original position would appear to be of no significance. 19. and from what the parties count as reasons and the information avail­ able to them. We characterize the original position by var­ ious stipulations—each with its o w n reasoned backing—so that the agree­ ment that would be reached can be worked out deductively by reasoning from h o w the parties are situated and described. that w o u l d make no difference.

18

I.

FUNDAMENTAL

IDEAS

manner what w e think on due reflection are the reasonable considerations to ground the principles of a political conception of justice. 6.5. T o illustrate regarding fair conditions: the parties are symmetri­ cally situated in the original position. T h i s models our considered convic­ tion that in matters of basic political justice citizens are equal in all rele­ vant respects: that is, that they possess to a sufficient degree the requisite powers o f moral personality and the other capacities that enable them to be normal and fully cooperating members of society over a complete life (§7). T h u s , in accordance with the precept o f formal equality that those equal (similar) in all relevant respects are to be treated equally (similarly), citizens' representatives are to be situated symmetrically in the original position. Otherwise w e would not think that position fair to citizens as free and equal. T o illustrate regarding appropriate restrictions on reasons: if w e are rea­ sonable, it is one of our considered convictions that the fact that we occupy a particular social position, say, is not a g o o d reason for us to accept, or to expect others to accept, a conception of justice that favors those in that p o ­ sition. If we are wealthy, or poor, w e d o not expect everyone else to accept a basic structure favoring the wealthy, or the poor, simply for that reason. T o model this and other similar convictions, w e do not let the parties know the social position o f the persons they represent. T h e same idea is extended to other features of persons by the veil o f ignorance. In short, the original position is to be understood as a device o f repre­ sentation. A s such it models our considered convictions as reasonable per­ sons by describing the parties (each o f w h o m is responsible for the funda­ mental interests of a free and equal citizen) as fairly situated and as reaching an agreement subject to appropriate restrictions on reasons for favoring principles o f political justice.

§7- T h e Idea of Free and Equal Persons
7-1- T o this point w e have simply used the idea of free and equal persons; we must now explain its meaning and role. Justice as fairness regards citi­ zens as engaged in social cooperation, and hence as fully capable of doing so, and this over a complete life. Persons so regarded have what w e may call "the two moral powers," explained as follows: (i) O n e such power is the capacity for a sense ofjustice: it is the capacity

j. Free and Equal Persons

19

to understand, to apply, and to act from (and not merely in accordance with) the principles of political justice that specify the fair terms o f social cooperation. (ii) T h e other moral power is a capacity for a conception of the good: it is the capacity to have, to revise, and rationally to pursue a conception o f the good. S u c h a conception is an ordered family of final ends and aims which specifies a person's conception o f what is o f value in human life or, alternatively, o f what is regarded as a fully worthwhile life. T h e elements of such a conception are normally set within, and interpreted by, certain com­ prehensive religious, philosophical, or moral doctrines in the light of which the various ends and aims are ordered and understood. 7.2. In saying that persons are regarded as having the two moral pow­ ers, we are saying that they have the requisite capacities not only to en­ gage in mutually beneficial social cooperation over a complete life but also to be moved to honor its fair terms for their own sake. In Theory, these two powers are taken as defining "moral persons" and "moral personality" (Theory, §§3-4). W h a t is meant, though, by saying that persons are free and equal? Here it is important to keep in mind that justice as fairness is a political conception of justice: that is, it is designed for the special case o f the basic structure of society and is not intended as a comprehensive moral doctrine. Therefore, the idea of the person, w h e n specified into a conception of the person, belongs to a political conception. (A fundamental idea becomes a conception if we specify its elements in a particular way.) T h i s means that the conception o f the person is not taken from metaphysics or the philoso­ phy of mind, or from psychology; it may have little relation to conceptions of the self discussed in those disciplines. It must o f course be compatible with (one or more) such philosophical or psychological conceptions (so far as they are sound), but that is another story. T h e conception of the person itself is meant as both normative and political, not metaphysical or psycho­ logical. A s noted earlier (§2.1-2), the conception of the person is worked up from the way citizens are regarded in the public political culture o f a demo­ cratic society, in its basic political texts (constitutions and declarations of human rights), and in the historical tradition of the interpretation of those texts. For these interpretations w e look not only to courts, political parties, and statesmen, but also to writers on constitutional law and jurisprudence,

20

I.

FUNDAMENTAL

IDEAS

and to the more enduring writings of all kinds that bear on a society's polit­ ical philosophy. 7.3. In what sense are citizens regarded as equal persons? Let's say they are regarded as equal in that they are all regarded as having to the essential minimum degree the moral powers necessary to engage in social coopera­ tion over a complete life and to take part in society as equal citizens. Having these powers to this degree w e take as the basis of equality among citizens as persons (Theory, §77): that is, since w e view society as a fair system of cooperation, the basis of equality is having to the requisite minimum degree the moral and other capacities that enable us to take part fully in the c o o p ­ erative life o f society. T h u s the equality of citizens is modeled in the origi­ nal position by the equality of their representatives: that is, by the fact that these representatives are symmetrically situated in that position and have equal rights in its procedure for reaching agreement. I note that in taking the moral powers as the basis of equality we in effect distinguish between a political society and the many associations within it and across it. T h e latter are associations that cross political boundaries, such as churches and scientific societies. Some of these associations are communities: churches and scientific societies again illustrate this; but uni­ versities and other cultural institutions are also communities. T h e members of a community are united in pursuing certain shared values and ends (other than economic) that lead them to support the association and in part bind them to it. In justice as fairness a democratic political society has no such shared values and ends apart from those falling under or connected with the political conception of justice itself. T h e citizens of a well-ordered society affirm the constitution and its political values as realized in their in­ stitutions, and they share the end of giving one another justice, as society's arrangements require. T h e significance of this distinction between a democratic society and the communities within it will become evident later and rests on a number o f its special features. For example, w e are born into society, and while w e may be born into communities also, into religions and their distinctive cultures, only society with its political form of government and its law exercises coer­ cive power. While we can leave communities voluntarily (the constitutional liberties guarantee this: apostasy is not a crime), there is a sense in which we cannot leave our political society voluntarily (§26). A l s o a community can reward or single out its members in proportion to their contribution to its shared values and ends; but a democratic society has no such shared val-

j. Free and Equal Persons

21

ues and ends (falling under the good) by which its citizens can be distin­ guished.
18

All w h o can be fully cooperating members o f political society

count as equals and can be treated differendy only as the public political conception of justice allows. It is a serious error not to distinguish between the idea of a democratic political society and the idea of community. O f course, a democratic society is hospitable to many communities within it, and indeed tries to be a social world within which diversity can flourish in amity and concord; but it is not itself a community, nor can it be in view of the fact of reasonable plural­ ism. For that would require the oppressive use o f government power which is incompatible with basic democratic liberties. From the start, then, w e view a democratic society as a political society that excludes a confessional or an aristocratic state, not to mention a caste, slave, or a racist one. T h i s exclusion is a consequence o f taking the moral powers as the basis of politi­ cal equality. 7.4. In what sense are citizens free? Here again w e must keep in mind that justice as fairness is a political conception of justice for a democratic society. T h e relevant meaning of free persons is to be drawn from the politi­ cal culture o f such a society and may have little or no connection, for exam­ ple, with freedom of the will as discussed in the philosophy o f mind. Fol­ lowing up this idea, w e say that citizens are regarded as free persons in two respects. First, citizens are free in that they conceive of themselves and of one an­ other as having the moral power to have a conception of the good. T h i s is not to say that, as part of their political conception, they view themselves as inevitably tied to the pursuit of the particular conception of the good which they affirm at any given time. Rather, as citizens, they are seen as capable o f revising and changing this conception on reasonable and rational grounds, and they may do this if they so desire. A s free persons, citizens claim the nght to view their persons as independent from and not identified with any particular conception of the good, or scheme o f final ends. Given their moral power to form, to revise, and rationally to pursue a conception o f the good, their public or legal identity as free persons is not affected by changes over time in their determinate conception of the good. For example, when citizens convert from one religion to another, or no

18. O n this point see "The Basic Structure as Subject," in Rawls, Political lect.VII,§8,pp.27 ff.
9

Liberalism,

they do not cease to be. FUNDAMENTAL IDEAS longer affirm an established religious faith. w e are particularly likely to say that w e are no longer the same person. . or in the internal life of their associations. there would be. stand apart from and evaluate objectively. for this conception. T h e y may have. If we suddenly lost them. or legal. In general.1 am indebted to Erin Kelly for the distinction between the two kinds of aims that characterize citizens' moral identities as described in this and the next paragraph. T h e y may regard it as simply unthinkable to view themselves apart from certain religious. citizens may regard their final ends and attach­ ments very differentiy from the way the political conception supposes. devotions. what one sees oneself as doing and trying to accomplish in the social world. T h e s e two aspects of their moral identity citizens must adjust and reconcile. as we are using it. they still have the same basic rights and duties. the same persons they were before. however. Such a society has a different political concep­ tion of the person. T h u s they affirm the values of political justice and want to see them embodied in political institutions and social policies. We can imagine a society (indeed history offers numerous examples) in which basic rights and recognized claims depend on religious affiliation and social class. and loyalties that they believe they would not. goes with the conception of society as a fair system of cooperation for reciprocal advantage between free and equal citizens. indeed could and should not. W h e n these changes are sudden. no point in carrying on. T h e y also work for the other nonpolitical values and ends o f the associations to which they belong. T h e r e is another sense of identity specified by reference to citizens' deeper aims and commitments. for questions o f political justice. usually slowly but sometimes rather suddenly. or from certain enduring attachments and loyalties. It can happen that in their personal affairs. affections. It may not have a conception of citizenship at all. In fact. and moral convictions. T h e s e two kinds o f commitments and attachments—political and nonpolitical—specify moral identity and give shape to a person's way of life. Let's call it their nonlegal or moral iden­ tity. w e might think. except insofar as these claims were connected with their previous reli­ gious affiliation. T h e r e is no loss o f what we may call their public. w e w o u l d be disoriented and unable to carry on. and often do have at any given time. O u r con­ ceptions o f the good may and often do change over time. identity—their identity as a matter o f basic law.22 I. We 19. philosophical. 19 N o w citizens usually have both political and nonpolitical aims and commitments. they own the same property and can make the same claims as be­ fore.

from duties and obligations owed to society. Free and Equal Persons 23 know what this means: we refer to a profound and pervasive shift. D o i n g this is reasonable in a political conception of justice for a consti­ tutional democracy. A second respect in w h i c h citizens view themselves as free is that they regard themselves as self-authenticating sources of valid claims.5.7. T h e s e claims citizens regard as having weight o f their own apart from being derived from duties and obligations specified by a political concep­ tion of justice. A n d in a well-or­ dered society supported by an overlapping consensus. citizens' (more gen­ eral) political values and commitments. 7. or from their ascribed roles in a social hierarchy justi­ fied by religious or aristocratic values. O n the road to Damascus Saul o f Tarsus becomes Paul the A p o s d e . these duties and obligations are self-authenticating from a political point of view. we are relying on how citizens tend to think o f themselves in a democratic society when questions of political justice arise. w e refer to our different moral (which includes our religious) identity. or moral. T o take an extreme case. for example. in our final ends and commitments. Laws that prohibit the abuse and maltreatment o f slaves are not founded on claims . for provided the conceptions of the good and the moral doctrine citizens affirm are compatible with the public conception of j u s ­ tice. T h a t this aspect belongs to a particular political conception is clear from the contrast with a different political conception in w h i c h the members of society are not viewed as selfauthenticating sources of valid claims. Claims that citizens regard as founded on duties and obligations based on their conception of the g o o d and the moral doctrine they affirm in their own life are also. they regard themselves as being entided to make claims on their institu­ tions so as to advance their conceptions of the g o o d (provided these con­ ceptions fall within the range permitted by the public conception of j u s ­ tice). as part of their noninstitutional. to be counted as self-authenticat­ ing. W h e n w e describe the way in w h i c h citizens regard themselves as free. not even claims based on social duties or obligations. In this case their claims have no weight except insofar as they can be derived from the duties and obliga­ tions owed to society. identity are roughly the same. T h a t is. nor in our personal identity as this concept is understood by some^writers in the philosophy of mind. slaves are human beings w h o are not counted as sources of claims. for our purposes here. Yet such a conversion implies no change in our public or legal identity. for slaves are not counted as capable of having duties or obligations. or rever­ sal.

for example. and hence w h o can exercise and respect its various rights and duties. §8. to characterize the person. and judgment. Moreover. esp.1 emphasize that the conception of the person as free and equal is a normative conception: it is given by our moral and political thought and practice. 3 3 7 - . inference.1. so to speak. Slavery and Social Death (Cam­ bridge. FUNDAMENTAL IDEAS made by slaves in their own behalf. we use the companion idea o f free and equal persons as those w h o can play the role of fully cooperating members. both in philosophy and in law. 3 8 . For the idea of social death. the concept of the person has been that of someone w h o can take part in. 7. In specifying the central organizing idea of society as a fair system of cooperation. Since ancient Greece. T h e s e are essential companion powers to the two moral powers and are required for their exercise and for the practice of the virtues. 1 9 8 2 ) . 5 . including. 20 T h i s contrast with a political conception of justice that allows slavery makes clear w h y conceiving of citizens as free persons in virtue of their moral powers and their having a conception of the good goes with a particular political conception o f the justice. T h i s conception of the person is not to be mistaken for the conception of a human being (a member of the species homo sapiens) as the latter might be specified in biology or psychology without the use of normative concepts of various kinds. a citizen is someone w h o can be a free and equal participant over a complete life. or play a role in. 20. pp. Mass. Relation between the Fundamental Ideas 8. see Orlando Patterson. T h e five fundamental ideas w e have discussed so far are closely re­ lated w h e n laid out in the sequence by which they were introduced: from society as a fair system o f cooperation to the idea of a well-ordered society.: Harvard University Press.4 5 .6. but on claims originating either from slaveholders or from the general interests of society (which do not include the interests of slaves). Slaves are. socially dead: they are not recognized as persons at all. social life.9 . the concepts of the moral powers and o f the moral and political virtues. and it is studied by moral and political philosophy and by the phi­ losophy of law.24 I. we must add to these concepts those used to formulate the powers of reason. A s suits a political conception of justice that views society as a fair system of cooperation.

those engaged in cooperation. Instead. it. as free and equal. or to be derived from. We cannot tell in advance whether the idea o f social cooperation. We specify the organizing idea and make it more determinate as w e connect it with the other ideas. Since justice as fairness looks for such a basis. various ideas of liberty and equality. and other ideas of society. it follows a different course. A m o n g those his­ torical conditions is the fact o f reasonable pluralism. b y showing them to be incompatible with the idea o f so­ cial cooperation. We then say h o w the fair terms o f cooperation are specified (by the parties in the original position) and ex­ plain h o w the persons engaged in cooperation are to be regarded (as free and equal citizens). will provide the organizing ideas w e need for a workable political conception of justice. T h e public political culture is not unambiguous: it contains a variety o f possible organizing ideas that might be used instead.2. we might say that the fair terms o f coopera­ tion are fixed by natural law viewed either as G o d ' s law or as given by a prior and independent moral order publicly known by rational intuition. 8. T o illustrate: there are various ways o f specifying the central idea o f so­ cial cooperation.8. In this sequence w e start with the organizing idea o f society as a fair sys­ tem of cooperation and then make it more determinate b y spelling out what results w h e n this idea is fully realized (a well-ordered society). 8. A s w e noted. T h e steps starting with that idea and proceed­ ing to the next are not said to follow from. and what this idea applies to (the basic structure). and finally to the idea o f citizens. Such ways o f fixing those terms have not been excluded b y deductive argu­ ment: for instance. The Fundamental Ideas 25 to the idea o f the basic structure o f such a society. and so it is not unreasonable to examine its merits as a central organizing idea. All w e need claim is that the idea of society as a fair system of co­ operation is deeply embedded in that culture. T h i s spelling out o f the central organizing idea o f social cooperation is not a deductive argument. to the idea o f the original position. they are ruled out b y the historical conditions and the public culture of democracy that set the requirements for a political conception of justice in a modern constitutional regime.3. and its two companion ideas. T h e point is that what- . w h i c h rules out com­ prehensive doctrines as a basis for a workable political agreement on a con­ ception of justice.

22. FUNDAMENTAL IDEAS ever idea w e select as the central organizing idea cannot be fully justified by its own intrinsic reasonableness. the basic structure of a democratic society. T h e idea of reflective equilibrium con­ nects with that o f public justification. 21 as its intrinsic reasonableness cannot suf­ fice for that. without our deriving it from. is a difficult idea. From the preceding discussion. as a democracy is. by reasonable pluralism. or basing it on. § § 4 . and b y how well that conception coheres with our considered convictions of political justice at all levels of generality in what w e may call wide (and gen­ eral) reflective equilibrium (§10). Intrinsic reasonableness. and of free public reason (§26). O f course. that a conviction strikes us as reasonable may indeed turn out to depend on our other beliefs and convictions. w e see that to fill this role a conception ofjustice should have three features. Such an idea can be fully justified (if at all) only by the concep­ tion of political justice to w h i c h it eventually leads w h e n worked out.26 I. O n due reflection we may affirm the conviction as having a certain reasonableness. namely. it is worked out for a spe­ cific subject. of course. So far w e have discussed five fundamental ideas beginning with the central organizing idea of society as a fair system of social cooperation. or acceptability. T h e s e make it a political conception of justice: (a) While it is. the idea of public j u s ­ tification. or acceptable. A political conception presents itself as a rea- 81. but that is not how it strikes us. a moral conception. T h e Idea of Public Justification 9. and only later do we try to extend it to connect it with the principles o f local justice and to cover the relations between peoples. and three other ideas related to it: those of reflective equilibrium (§io). or acceptability. It means that a judgment or conviction strikes us as reasonable. for such a society is effectively regulated by a publicly recognized con­ ception of justice (§3). It does not apply directly to associations and groups within society. 9 .1. other judgments. to which w e now turn. T h e aim of the idea of public justification is to specify the idea of justifica­ tion in a way appropriate to a political conception of justice for a society characterized. . §9. See also Theory. T h e idea of public justification goes with the idea of a well-ordered soci­ ety. (b) Accepting this conception does not presuppose accepting any partic­ ular comprehensive doctrine. on its own. 22 of an overlapping consensus (§11). N o w w e turn to a sixth and last fundamental idea.

Oot only to our o w n considered convictions. and the like—there is nothing so far to justify. T h e s e principles provide. If there is no conflict in judgment about questions o f politi­ cal justice—judgments about the justice o f certain principles and standards. and b y appealing to beliefs. T o justify our political judgments to others is to convince them b y public reason. grounds. 9. then. it exhibits the overall structure o f conceptions o f any kind. justification is addressed to others w h o disagree with us (Theory. may reasonably be expected to share and freely endorse. Public justification is not. with the rest on terms all can endorse as just. assumed to be free and equal and fully capable o f reason. Valid argument is instructive in setting out the relations between statements: it joins basic ideas and general state­ ments with one another and with more particular judgments. politically and socially. the public politi­ cal culture o f a democratic society: for example. or implicit in. it serves as a mode of exposition. and political values it is reasonable for others also to acknowledge.2. but also to those of others. We saw that in a well-ordered society effectively regulated b y a pub­ licly recognized political conception of justice. b y ways o f reasoning and inference appropriate to fundamental political questions. then. valid argument falls short o f public justification.g. simply valid argument from given pre­ mises (though o f course it is that). So understood. the idea o f society as a fair system o f cooperation and the idea o f citizens as free and equal. B y connecting the elements o f a conception into an intelligible and perspicuous whole. But when the premises and conclusions are not acceptable on due reflection to all parties in disagreement. that is. T h a t there are such ideas in their public culture is taken as a fact about democratic so­ cieties. §87). Public Justification 27 sonable conception for the basic structure alone and its principles express a family o f political values that characteristically apply to that structure. it must be acceptable. particular institutions and policies. and . A n essential feature of a well-ordered soci­ ety is that its public conception of political justice establishes a shared basis for citizens to justify to one another their political judgments: each cooper­ ates. a mutually acceptable point of view from which citizens' claims on the main institutions o f the ba­ sic structure can be adjudicated. Public j u s ­ tification proceeds from some consensus: from premises all parties in dis­ agreement. everyone accepts the same principles of justice. (c) A political conception ofjustice is formulated so far as possible solely in terms of fundamental ideas familiar from. This is the meaning of public justification. For justice as fairness to succeed.

5). for example: (1) the fundamental principles that specify the general structure of gov­ ernment and the political process. religious. freedom of thought and of association. 9. I merely hint at what is meant. say. ^ Contrast two ideas of public justification on matters political: the first appeals to a political conception ofjustice. T h e practicable aim is to narrow disagreement at least re­ garding the more divisive controversies. such as the right to vote and to participate in politics. so far as possible. and in particular those that involve the constitutional essentials (§13. or moral. the limits of majority rule. T o resolve these it is often necessary to go outside that con­ ception and the political values its principles express. and (2) the equal basic rights and liberties o f citizenship that legislative ma­ jorities must respect. the second appeals to a compre­ hensive doctrine. executive. Jus- . and so. Clearly one leading aim of public justification is to preserve the con­ ditions of effective and democratic social cooperation on a footing o f mu­ tual respect between citizens regarded as free and equal. T h e s e and other matters are a complex story.3. the hope is that political and social cooperation between free and equal citizens can be maintained. it is too much to expect complete agreement on all politi­ cal questions. political liberalism neither accepts nor rejects any particular com­ prehensive doctrine. moral or religious. and moral truth.28 I. O f course. philosophical. one task of political philosophy is to try to work out a conception ofjustice that narrows disagreement on at least the most disputed questions. S u c h justification depends on an agreement in judgment at least on constitutional essentials. T h e point is that if a political conception of justice covers the con­ stitutional essentials. But so long as there is firm agree­ ment on the constitutional essentials. and the judiciary. the powers of the legislature. for what is of greatest urgency is con­ sensus on those essentials. 9. b y rational intuitionism. It does allow that it belongs to these doctrines to search for religious. and to invoke values and considerations it does not include. as well as the protections of the rule of law. Now. T h u s a comprehensive moral doctrine tries to show w h i c h political judgments are true as specified. it is already o f enormous importance even if it has lit­ tle to say about many economic and social issues that legislative bodies must consider. liberty of conscience. philosophical. or b y a variant o f utilitarianism. FUNDAMENTAL IDEAS this at all levels o f generality in more or less wide and general reflective equilibrium (as explained below in §10). when that agreement is in jeopardy.4.

from the basic structure of society to the particular actions and character of people in everyday life. Basler (New Brunswick. Some judgments^'We view as fixed points: ones w e never expect to withdraw. that o f public justification.: Rutgers University Press. §10. as when Lincoln Wys: "If slavery is not wrong. " T h e positions of j u d g e s . It is this last condition o f reasoned reflection that. Reflective Equilibrium 29 ticc as fairness hopes to p u t aside long-standing religious and philosophical controversies and to avoid relying on any particular comprehensive view. N. these powers gradually develop. G . T h e sense of justice (as a form o f moral sensibility) involves an intellectual power. T h e Idea of Reflective Equilibrium 10. since its exercise in making judgments calls upon the powers o f rea­ son. under condiT o n s where we seem to have the ability. and after the age o f reason are exercised in many kinds of j u d g ­ ments of justice ranging over all kinds o f subjects. Roy P. The Collected Works ofAbra*•* Lincoln. and with it. T o realize this aim w e try to work u p . a public basis of justification that all citizens as reasonable and rational can endorse from within their own comprehensive doctrines. Hodges. the more familiar temptations being absent. 23 ?3. or at least w e have no apparent interest in not d o mg so. April 4. T o explain the idea o f reflective equilibrium w e start from the thought (included in the idea o f free and equal persons) that citizens have a capacity for reason (both theoretical and practical) as well as a sense of jus­ tice. We select from our judgments of political justice those w e refer to as con­ sidered judgments or considered convictions. . among other things. ed. Abraham Lincoln. It uses a different idea. 7a8x-283.J. T h e s e are judgments given under conditions in which our capacity for j u d g m e n t is most likely to have been fully exercised and not affected b y distorting influences (Theory. Under the normal circumstances of human life. the opportunity.1. Considered judgments are those given when conditions are favorable to the exercise o f our powers o f reason and sense of justice: that is. 1953). If this is achieved.1864. and seeks to moderate divi­ sive political conflicts and to specify the conditions o f fair social coopera­ tion between citizens. distinguishes public justification from mere agreement. from the funda­ mental ideas implicit in the political culture. and the desire to make a sound judgment.». letter to A . the political concep­ tion affirmed in reflective equilibrium. we have an overlapping consensus o f reasonable doctrines (§11). nothing is w r o n g . §9). imagination and judgment.

and these convictions w e model by the idea o f the veil of ignorance in the original position (§6). and ending finally at highly general convictions. W h e n the person in question adopts this conception and brings other judgments in line with it w e say this person is m narrow reflective equilibrium. a certain intrinsic reasonableness. first principles. ranging from particular j u d g ­ ments on the particular actions o f individuals to judgments about the jus­ tice and injustice of particular institutions and social policies. T h i s point deserves emphasis. T h e question arises: h o w can we make our o w n considered judgments o f political justice more consistent both within themselves and with the considered judgments o f others without imposing on ourselves an external political authority? We approach this problem as follows: w e note that we make considered political judgments at all levels of generality. A m o n g these convictions are those about the restrictions to impose on reasons for favoring principles of justice for the basic structure. but our o w n judgments are sometimes in conflict with one another.3.30 I. suppose w e (as observers) find the conception of political justice that makes the fewest revisions in that person's initial judgments and proves to be acceptable w h e n the concep­ tion is presented and explained. T h e implications o f the judgments w e render on one question may be inconsistent or incongruent with those w e render on other questions. some o f these judgments must eventually be revised. so far as the case allows. T h e equilibrium is narrow because. Focusing now on any one person. FUNDAMENTAL IDEAS umpires. and referees are designed to include conditions that encourage the exercise of the judicial virtues. and particular judgments are in line. Not only do our considered judgments often differ from those of other persons. so that their verdicts can be seen as approximating considered judgments. whatever their level o f gen­ erality—whether a particular judgment or a high-level general conviction— as capable of having for us. Many of our most serious conflicts are con­ flicts within ourselves. among them impartiality and judiciousness. as reasonable and rational. 10. T h o s e w h o suppose their judgments are always con­ sistent are unreflective or dogmatic. 10. w e . if the practical aim o f reaching rea­ sonable agreement on matters of political justice is to be achieved.2. not uncommonly they are ideologues and zealots. Justice as fairness regards all our judgments. while general convictions. suspended. or withdrawn. Yet since we are of divided mind and our judgments con­ flict with those o f other people.

w e cannot d o better than that. W i d e and not narrow reflective equilibrium is plainly the important concept (Theory. Recall that a well-ordered society is a society effectively regulated by a public conception of justice. ( T h e ad­ jective "full" w e reserve for features as realized in a well-ordered society. From what w e said above (in §10. and particular judgments are in line. and has weighed the force of the different philosophi­ cal and other reasons for them. But since citi­ zens recognize that they affirm the same public conception o f political j u s ­ tice. In this case. 10. T h u s citizens have achieved general and wide. Considered judgments o f all kinds and levels may have an intrinsic reasonableness. T h i s suggests that w e regard as wide reflective equilibrium (still in the case o f one person) that reflective equilibrium reached w h e n someone has carefully considered alternative conceptions of justice and the force of vari­ ous arguments for them. reflective equilibrium. full reflective equilibrium is characterized b y its .1 0 . given the wide-ranging reflection and possibly many changes o f view that have preceded it. A t any given time. but also this point of view is mutually rec­ ognized as affirmed b y them all in full reflective equilibrium. Reflective Equilibrium 31 looked for the conception of justice that called for the fewest revisions to achieve consistency. More exactly. this person has considered the lead­ ing conceptions of political justice found in our philosophical tradition (in­ cluding views critical o f the concept of justice itself (some think Marx's view is an example)). § 9 .2). T h e *W>st reasonable political conception for us is the one that best fits all our considered convictions on reflection and organizes them into a coherent *»ew. though the terms "narrow" and " w i d e " are unfortunately not used there).) In such a society not only is there a public point o f view from which all citi­ zens can adjudicate their claims. or what we may refer to as full. reflective equilibrium is also general: the same conception is affirmed in everyone's considered judgments. and neither alternative conceptions of justice nor the force o f the various arguments for those conceptions have been taken into account b y the person in question. to reasonable persons that persists after due reflection. In justice as fairness. T h i n k o f each citizen in such a society as having achieved wide (versus narrow) reflective equilibrium. the idea of justification paired with fall reflective equilibrium is nonfoundationalist in this way: no specified Wnd of considered judgment of political justice or particular level of gener­ ality is thought to carry the whole weight of public justification.4. w e suppose this person's gen­ eral convictions. or acceptability. first principles. but now the reflective equilibrium is wide.

we do not assume they do so for all the same reasons. T h e idea o f an overlapping consensus is introduced to make the idea o f a well-ordered society more realistic and to adjust it to the historical and social conditions of democratic societies. and moral doctrines that gain a significant b o d y o f adherents and endure over time from one generation to the next. whether fully or partially comprehensive. But endorsing other ideas of justification alone will not prevent such doctrines from belonging to an overlapping consensus. and so. where it is italicized. and moral views and so they affirm the political conception from within different and opposing comprehensive doctrines. 225. on w h i c h all citizens do or can agree to setde the fundamental questions of political j u s ­ tice. as described above. philo­ sophical. §11. coherence of this kind presumably does not suffice. By this w e mean that the political conception is supported by the reasonable though opposing religious. T h i s is. While in a well-ordered society all citizens affirm the same political conception ofjustice. the most reasonable basis of political and social unity available to citizens o f a democratic society. philosophical. State. in part at least. and Utopia. But this does not prevent the political concep­ tion from being a shared point of view from which they can resolve ques­ tions concerning the constitutional essentials. and its nonfoundationalist aspect. all the way d o w n . In this way it meets the need for a basis o f public justi­ fication on questions o f political justice.1. p. T h e phrase is from Nozick's Anarchy. for different reasons. for coherence among considered convictions at all levels of generality and in wide and general reflective equi­ librium is all that is required for the practical aim of reaching reasonable agreement on matters o f political justice. given the his­ torical conditions o f the modern world. . w e say that in a well-ordered society the political conception is affirmed by what w e refer to as a reasonable overlapping consensus. I believe. With other ideas o f justifica­ tion specified by certain comprehensive doctrines. w e d o not say that its public politi­ cal conception of justice is affirmed by citizens from within the same com­ prehensive doctrine. T h e fact of reasonable pluralism implies that there is no such doctrine. T h u s to formulate a realistic idea of a well-ordered society. 24.32 I. T h e Idea of an Overlapping Consensus 11. 24 Citizens have conflicting religious. reasoned reflection. FUNDAMENTAL IDEAS practical aim. w h i c h include the fact of rea­ sonable pluralism. Rather.

and helps to permit a modus vivendi to change over time into an overlapping consensus. and moral. For those w h o hold well-articulated. People may think that the political values realized by a just basic structure are normally of suf­ ficient weight to override whatever other values are likely come in conflict with them. Rather. 2 . starting from its basic assumptions) that these citizens affirm the political concep­ tion ofjustice. T h e thought is that citizens in a well-ordered society affirm two dis­ tinct although closely related views. In giving an important place to the idea o f an overlapping consen­ sus. principles. 11. found in society. and virtues o f the p o ­ litical conception are theorems.11. We need not enumerate further possibilities (of which there are many) except to add that many citizens may not hold any well-articulated compre­ hensive doctrine at all. associational and personal values together with the political values expressed b y the political conception. and its fundamental ideas are familiar and drawn from the public political culture. O n e o f these is the political conception of justice they* all affirm. T h e s e political values are not derived within any overall. highly systematic. S o while their whole view is comprehensive in that it includes nonpolitical values. Overlapping Consensus 33 U . Perhaps most d o not. systematic view. that likewise d o so. In §58 w e shall find that this lack o f system and com­ pleteness is indeed fortunate. they affirm various re­ ligious and philosophical. T h e other is one o f the opposing comprehensive (or partially comprehensive) doctrines. Its requirements are limited to society's basic structure. religious. it is from within such a doctrine (that is. T o elaborate: the diversity o f religious. T h e fundamental concepts.3. philosophical. Justice as fairness has the three features o f a political conception that should help it to gain the support o f a reasonable overlapping consensus. A n y political conception has a view o f the Political and social world and relies on certain general facts of political soci­ ology and human psychology. as well as various liberal philosophical doctrines. T h e fact of reasonable pluralism is the first o f five such facts that are especially important injustice as fairness. T h e three features al­ low different comprehensive views to endorse it. as it were. such as those of Kant and Mill. T h e s e include religious doctrines that affirm liberty o f conscience and support the basic constitu­ tional freedoms. its acceptance pre­ supposes no particular comprehensive view. and moral doc- . it is only partially comprehensive in being neither sys­ tematic nor complete. philosophical. comprehensive doctrines. o f their comprehensive views. we assume the fact o f reasonable pluralism to be a permanent con­ dition o f a democratic society.

then. is undoubtedly influenced by dwelling upon certain facts of historical experience. a fourth general fact: that the political culture o f a demo25. even secular ones. Elements of the Philosophy of Right. If we say a political society is a community w h e n it is united in affirming one and the same comprehensive doctrine (recall §7. Augustine and extending into the eighteenth century. T h i s fact about free societies is what I call the fact of reasonable pluralism. political or other. with all its official crimes and the inevitable brutality and cruelties. would likewise require the oppressive sanctions o f state power to remain s o . followed b y the corruption o f religion. must be willingly and freely supported by at least a substantial majority of its p o ­ litically active citizens. A society united on a form o f utilitarianism. though that was hardly the Reformers' intent.34 I. Allen Wood (Cambridge- Cambridge University Press. F. Hegel. philosophy. Let us call this the fact of oppression. its suppression o f heresy was needed to preserve the shared religious belief. W. w e suppose. that it oc­ curred was not a misfortune but a good thing for both church and state. . B . im­ portant among these facts are the endless oppressions and cruelties of state power and in­ quisition used to sustain Christian unity beginning as early as St. 25 A third general fact is that an enduring and secure democratic regime. Otherwise the regime will not be enduring and secure. should it not already exist. We add. for any comprehen­ sive philosophical and moral doctrine. 1901).3). then the oppressive use of state power with these attendant evils is necessary to maintain political community. T h e same holds. p p . as specified in § 9 . Political liberalism begins with the division of Christendom after the Reformation. T h i s leads us to introduce the idea o f a political conception ofjustice. one not divided b y bitter doctrinal disputes and hostile social classes. A second and related general fact is that a continuing shared adherence to one comprehensive doctrine can be maintained only b y the oppressive use of state power. and science. or o n the moral views o f Kant or Mill. Nisbet and ed. In the society of the Mid­ dle A g e s . it is a permanent feature o f the public culture of democracy. For justice as fairness. 3oif. this means that to serve as a public basis of justification for a constitutional regime a con­ ception of justice must be one that can b e endorsed by widely different and even irreconcilable comprehensive doctrines. more or less united in affirming the Catholic faith. A s Hegel believed. FUNDAMENTAL IDEAS trines found in modern democratic societies is not a mere historical condi­ tion that may soon pass away.T h e content and tone of one's conception of justice. §270 (end of the long comment). See G . a diversity o f conflicting and ir­ reconcilable yet reasonable comprehensive doctrines will come about and persist. the Inquisition was not an accident. trans. Under the political and social conditions secured b y the ba­ sic rights and liberties o f free institutions. Together with the first general fact. H .

and why should state power be re­ quired to overcome it? W h y doesn't our sincere and conscientious attempt to reason with one another lead us to agreement? It seems to d o so in sci­ ence. T h i s indeterminacy means that w e must rely on j u d g m e n t and interpretation (and on judgments about interpretations) within some range (not sharply specifiable) where reasonable persons may differ. are vague and subject to hard cases. For w h y should free institutions with their basic rights and liberties lead to diversity. call for explanation.I. We want to know how reasonable disagreement is possible.4. S o in a Modern society with its numerous offices and positions. 11. (b) Even where w e agree fully about the kinds o f considerations that are relevant. and this mixed with logical errors leads to conflicting opinions. for w e always begin work within ideal theory. we may disagree about their weight. certain fundamental ideas from which it is possible to work u p a political conception of justice suitable for a constitutional regime. so are their views. W e might suppose that most people hold views that advance their o w n more narrow interests. O r perhaps people are often irrational and not very bright. ( d ) T h e way w e assess evidence and weigh moral and political values is ahaped (how m u c h so w e cannot tell) b y our total experience. and thus hard to assess and evaluate. There are several possible explanations. at least in the long run. But these explanations are too easy. our whole course o f life u p to now. its many divisions . and espe­ cially the first two (the fact of reasonable pluralism and the fact o f oppres­ sion). (c) T o some degree all our concepts. and not only our moral and politi­ cal concepts. and so arrive at different j u d g ­ ments. Overlapping Consensus 35 cratic society that has worked reasonably well over a considerable period o f time normally contains. T h u s we ask: h o w might reasonable disagreement come about? A n explanation o f the right kind is that the sources o f reasonable dis­ agreement—what I call the burdens of judgment—among reasonable per­ sons are the many obstacles to the correct (and conscientious) exercise o f our powers o f reason and judgment in the ordinary course o f political life. or in natural science anyway. What lies behind these first four general facts? Surely all. and our total experiences surely differ. at least implicidy. and since their interests are different. and not the kind we want. These obstacles include the following: (a) T h e evidence—empirical and scientific—bearing o n a case may be conflicting and complex.

the will to dominate and the desire for glory are prominent in politics and affect the rise and fall of na­ tions. 1991). 27. citizens' total experiences differ enough for their judgments to diverge to some degree on many if not most cases of any significant complexity. This is because any system of institutions has.36 I. Henry Hardy (New Y k : o r Knopf. See his statement in "On the Pursuit of the Ideal. its many social groups and often their ethnic variety." in The Crooked Timber of Humanity. so that some selec­ tion must be made from the full range of moral and political values that might be realized. or are subjective. FUNDAMENTAL IDEAS of labor. pluralism is a permanent feature of a free democratic cul­ ture. 11. and face other hard decisions that may seem to have no clear answer. A fifth and last general fact may be stated as follows: that many of our most important political judgments involving the basic political values are made subject to conditions such that it is highly unlikely that conscientious and fully reasonable persons. We do not deny that vanity arid» greed. can exer­ cise their powers o f reason so that all arrive at the same conclusion. T h i s fact must not be understood to imply a philosophical doctrine of skepticism. that any system of social institutions is limited in the range of values it can accommodate. T h e burdens of judgment alone can account for the fact of reasonable pluralism (there are o f course other reasons). we face great difficulties in setting priorities. or that what w e take as judgments about values are simply historically con­ ditioned opinions giving voice to interests rooted in time and place. 27 It does not mean that reasonable persons d o not agree in political judgment because objective values d o not exist. It re­ fers instead to the many difficulties in reaching agreement arising with all kinds of judgment. the often impressionistic nature of the evidence. ed. and since we cannot eliminate these burdens. to eradicate diver- 26. A related point has often been stressed by Isaiah Berlin. namely. and the severity of the conflicts they commonly address. §34: 188. with its atten­ dant cruelties and corruptions of civic and cultural life. . as it were. in holding it essential to avoid resting liberty of con­ science and toleration on philosophical skepticism and indifference to religion.5. but a limited social space. T h e s e difficulties are particularly acute in the case of political judgments in view of the very great complexity o f the questions raised. (e) Often there are different kinds of normative considerations of differ­ ent force on both sides of a question and it is difficult to make an overall assessment. This follows Theory. even after free and open discussion. In being forced to select among cherished values. Yet since w e cannot as a democracy use state power.

and w e try to put no unnecessary ob­ stacles in the way of their affirming the political conception. In Part V w e consider whether a well-ordered democratic society is pos­ sible. T o do that would make the political con­ ception political in the wrong way (§56). We assume that we know nothing in advance about people's comprehensive views. Instead. how its possibility is consistent with human nature and the requirements o f workable political institutions. Moreover. A second remark is that we start from the conviction that a constitutional democratic regime is reasonably just and workable. or any reasonable conception for a democratic regime. We try to show that the Well-ordered society of justice as fairness is indeed possible according to our nature and those requirements. U.6. philosophical. Overlapping Consensus 37 gity we look for a political conception of justice that can gain the support of a reasonable overlapping consensus to serve as a public basis of j u s ­ tification. or moral—with which the political conception may possibly conflict. w e ask h o w to frame a conception of justice for a constitutional regime that both seems defensible in its own right and is such that those who support. given good fortune and enough time to gain allegiance to itself. T o say that would go beyond the political. In conclusion. T h i s leads to the idea of a political conception of justice that presupposes no particular comprehensive view. T h i s endeavor belongs to political phi- . outweigh the transcendent values (as people may interpret them)—reli­ gious. Many doctrines are plainly incompatible with the values of democracy. and worth defending. that kind of regime can also endorse that conception. and hence may be supported by an enduring overlap­ ping consensus of reasonable doctrines. there is plainly no guarantee that justice as fairness. w e try to design our defense of it so as to gain the allegiance of reasonable people and to win wide support. two remarks to prevent misunderstandings of the idea of an overlapping consensus: ' First. given the actual comprehensive views existing in society. political liberalism does not say that the values ar­ ticulated by a political conception of justice. But given the fact of reasonable pluralism. no matter what their content. or w h o might be brought to support. We do not look to the comprehensive doctrines that in fact exist and then frame a political conception that strikes a balance between them expressly designed to gain their allegiance.[. and if so. though o f basic significance. can gain the support of an overlapping consensus and in that way underwrite the stability of its po­ litical institutions.

None of this may ease our loss. abetted by prejudice and folly. situated as we may be in a corrupt society. But we may reflect that the world is not in itself inhospitable to political justice and its good. for seeing that the conditions of a social world at least allow for that possibility affects our view of the world itself and our at­ titude toward it. must inevitably prevail. O u r social world might have been different and there is hope for those at another time and place. a world in which the will to dominate and oppressive cruelties. FUNDAMENTAL IDEAS losophy as reconciliation.38 I. . N o longer need it seem hopelessly hostile.

Recall first that justice as fairness is framed for a democratic society.2. its main . In that argument the original position serves to keep track o f all our assumptions and to bring out their combined force by uniting them into one framework so that w e can more easily see their implications. In Part II w e discuss the content of the two principles of justice that apply to the basic structure. w e postpone until later (Part IV. that is. A more formal and organized argument for these principles is presented in Part III. as well as various grounds in favor o f them and replies to a number of objections. Three Basic Points 12. what princi­ ples are most appropriate to it? Alternatively: w h i c h principles are most appropriate for a democratic society that not only professes but wants to take seriously the idea that citizens are free and equal. T h e second point is that justice as fairness takes the primary sub­ ject o f political justice to be the basic structure of society. and tries to realize that idea in its main institutions? T h e question o f whether a constitutional regime is to be preferred to majoritarian democracy. 12.1. where w e discuss the reasoning that moves the parties in the original position. I begin with three basic points w h i c h review some matters discussed in Part I and introduce others w e are about to examine. §44).PART II Principles of Justice §12. Its principles are meant to an­ swer the question: once we view a democratic society as a fair system of so­ cial cooperation between citizens regarded as free and equal.

associational. T h e idea of political liberalism arises as follows. T h u s political power is citizens' power. T h e s e two points give rise to a problem o f political legitimacy. (a) It is a relationship of persons within the basic structure of society. T h e third point is that justice as fairness is a form of political liber­ alism: it tries to articulate a family o f highly significant (moral) values that characteristically apply to the political and social institutions of the basic structure. a structure we enter only by birth and exit only b y death (or so w e may assume for the moment). and indeed cannot. Political society is closed. enter or leave it voluntarily. the fact that a diversity of rea­ sonable comprehensive doctrines is a permanent feature of a democratic so­ ciety. In particular. and their good or ill fortune over the course of life (§16). as it were. and second. from the fact that in a democratic regime political power is regarded as the power of free and equal citizens as a collective body. their opportunities for education. It gives an account o f these values in the light o f certain special features of the political relationship as distinct from other relationships. (b) Political power is always coercive power applied by the state and its apparatus of enforcement. We suppose that citizens are born into society and will normally spend their whole lives within its basic institutions. but in a constitutional regime political power is at the same time the power o f free and equal citizens as a collective body. We ask: by what prin­ ciples are differences o f that kind—differences in life-prospects—made le­ gitimate and consistent with the idea of free and equal citizenship in society seen as a fair system of cooperation? 12. let us suppose that the fundamental social and economic inequalities are the differences in citizens' life-prospects (their prospects over a complete life) as these are affected by such things as their social class of origin. For if the fact of reasonable pluralism always characterizes democratic societies and if .3. PRINCIPLES OF JUSTICE political and social institutions and h o w they fit together into one unified system of cooperation (§4). We start from two facts: first. from the fact of reasonable pluralism. and w e do not. familial. T h e nature and role of the basic structure importandy influence social and eco­ nomic inequalities and enter into determining the appropriate principles o f justice. their native endowments. which they impose on themselves and one another as free and equal. and personal.40 II.

our question is: viewing society as a fair system of cooperation between citizens regarded as free and equal. as defined in §9. T o find a principle to regulate these inequalities. so long as there is at least rough agreement here. the fair value 1. In matters o f constitutional essentials. what principles of justice are most appropriate to specify basic rights and liber­ ties. Such a conception when satisfied allows us to say: political power is legitimate only w h e n it is exercised in accor­ dance with a constitution (written or unwritten) the essentials of w h i c h all citizens. T h i s is nei­ ther possible nor desirable. in the light o f what reasons and values—of what kind o f a conception of justice—can citi­ zens legitimately exercise that coercive power over one another? Political liberalism answers that the conception ofjustice must be a polit­ ical conception. T h i s is the liberal principle of legitimacy.4. as well as on questions o f basic justice. so far as possible. however.1. should also be setded. It is not always clear whether a question involves a constitutional essential. a political conception of justice provides the frame­ work for the liberal idea o f political legitimacy.4. Yet at least on constitutional essentials and matters o f basic justice w e do try for an agreed basis. In providing a public basis of justification. If there is doubt about this and the question is highly divisive. . Given these three points. w e try to appeal only to principles and values each citizen can en­ dorse. if that is possible. be maintained. w e look to our firmest considered convictions about equal basic rights and liberties. T h e r e are many questions legislatures must consider that can only be settled b y voting that is properly influenced b y nonpolitical values. can endorse in the light of their com­ mon human reason. fair social cooperation among citizens can. and to regulate social and economic inequalities in citizens' prospects over a complete life? T h e s e inequalities are our primary concern.1 2 . or are highly divisive. while freedom o f speech and thought in a constitutional regime make it free. A political conception of justice hopes to formulate these values: its shared principles and values make reason public. w e hope. w e do not say that a political conception for­ mulates political values that can settle all legislative questions. A s noted in §9. then citizens have a duty of civility to try to articulate their claims on one another by refer­ ence to political values. It is a further desideratum that all legislative questions that concern or border o n these essentials. as reasonable and rational. Three Basic Points 41 political power is indeed the power of free and equal citizens. 1 12. and discussed further in §26. as will be mentioned in due course. by guidelines and values that can be similarly endorsed.

N o changes made injus­ tice as fairness in this restatement are more significant than those forced by Hart's review. PRINCIPLES OF JUSTICE of the political liberties as well as fair equality of opportunity. Sterling McMurrin (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press. A . 20). and (b) Social and economic inequalities are to satisfy two conditions: first. they are to 2. Hart in his splendid critical review essay. We look out­ side the sphere of distributive justice more narrowly construed to see whether an appropriate distributive principle is singled out b y those firmest convictions once their essential elements are represented in the original p o ­ sition as a device of representation (§6). which scheme is compatible with the same scheme of liberties for all. O u r convictions about principles regulating those inequalities are m u c h less firm and as­ sured. L .42 II. T h e idea here is to use our firmest considered convictions about the na­ ture of a democratic society as a fair system of cooperation between free and equal citizens—as modeled in the original position—to see whether the combined assertion of those convictions so expressed will help us to iden­ tify an appropriate distributive principle for the basic structure with its eco­ nomic and social inequalities in citizens' life-prospects.1. "Rawls on Liberty and Its Priority" Uni­ versity of Chicago Law Review 40 (Spring 1973): 551-555. reprinted in Political Liberalism. 1983). ed. T h i s device is to assist us in work­ ing out w h i c h principle. T o try to answer our question. let us turn to a revised statement of the two principles of justice discussed in Theory. 1982). 3. they are to be attached to offices and positions open to all under conditions of fair equality of opportunity. the representatives of free and equal citizens w o u l d select to regulate social and economic inequalities in these prospects over a complete life w h e n they assume that the equal basic liber­ ties and fair opportunities are already secured. so we look to our firmest convictions for guidance where assurance is lacking and guidance is needed (Theory. T h e y should (a) E a c h person has the same indefeasible claim to a fully adequate scheme of equal basic liberties. . §13." Tanner Lectures on Human Values. This section summarizes some points from "The Basic Liberties and Their Priority. §1. §§4. and second. now read: 2 §§11-14. reprinted in his Essays in Juris­ prudence and Philosophy (Oxford: Oxford University Press. In that essay I try to reply to what I believe are two of the more serious objections to my account of liberty in Theory raised by H. or principles. vol. Two Principles of Justice 13.

3 A s I explain below. T h i s is a dif­ ficult and not altogether clear idea. . §36: 197-1995. We seek a principle of distribution (in the narrower sense) that holds within the setting of background institutions that secure the basic equal liberties (in­ cluding the fair value of the political liberties) as well as fair equality of op­ portunity. 4." Ethics 99 (July 1989): 727-751. T h e widespread idea that the argument for the difference principle depends on extreme aversion to uncertainty is a mistake. w h i c h are significant. we should attend to the meaning of fair equality of opportunity. But be­ fore noting the revisions in the first principle. which includes a social minimum).See Theory. or all conceivable cases. See. to correct the defects of formal equality of op­ portunity—careers open to talents—in the system of natural liberty. and not restricted to cases that can arise only within a specified institutional context.1) are two very distinct things. in the second principle fair equality of opportunity is prior to the difference prin­ ciple. 5 4 13. But I still use the term "difference principle" to emphasize first. Some have found this kind of restriction objectionable. we seek a principle to govern social and economic inequalities in demo­ cratic regimes as we know them. 1973)* p. that in arguing for the difference principle over other dis­ tributive principles (say a restricted principle of (average) utility.15. they think a political concep­ tion should be framed to cover all logically possible cases.2." many writers prefer the term "the maximin prin­ ciple. T h i s priority means that in applying a principle (or checking it against test cases) we assume that the prior principles are fully satisfied. T o 3. for example. faults to be corrected in Part III of this restatement. and second." or simply "maximin justice. Two Principles of Justice 43 be to the greatest benefit of the least-advantaged members of society (the difference principle)." or some such locution. H o w far that principle holds outside that setting is a separate question we shall not consider. §12: 62ff. and so we are concerned with inequalities in citizens' lifeprospects that may actually arise. but that all should have a fair chance to attain them. In contrast. its role is perhaps best gathered from why it is introduced: namely. that this principle and the maximin rule for decision under uncertainty (§28. also. See for exam­ ple Brian Barry. fair equality of opportunity is said to require not merely that public offices and social positions be open in the formal sense. given our understanding of how certain institutions work. Joshua C o ­ hen's very full and accurate account of the difference principle in "Democratic Equality. Instead of "the difference principle. T h e revisions in the second principle are merely stylistic. the first principle is prior to the second. although a mistake unhappily encouraged by the faults of exposi­ tion in Theory. 112. The Liberal Theory of Justice (Oxford: Oxford University Press. socalled {Theory. there is no appeal at all to the maximin rule for decision under uncertainty. §14). T o this end..

3. certain requirements must be imposed on the basic structure be­ y o n d those of the system of natural liberty. Society must also establish. this presumption creates no special priority for any particular liberty. T h i s revision brings out that no priority is assigned to liberty as such. §11: 60 (1st ed. 14. PRINCIPLES OF JUSTICE specify the idea of a fair chance we say: supposing that there is a distribu­ tion of native endowments. and Social . Morality. For a statement of such a principle with further discussion. the right to vote and to participate in politics) and freedom of as­ sociation. Consider now the reasons for revising the first principle. equal opportunities of ed­ ucation for all regardless of family income ( § 1 5 ) . as well as the rights and liberties specified b y the liberty and in­ tegrity (physical and psychological) of the person. 6 13. 1990). obscures this important feature of these liberties. PefFer. Justice (Princeton: Princeton University Press. see R.).44 II. political liberties (for example. but the use of the singu­ lar term "basic liberty" in the statement of the principle on Theory. T o accomplish its aims. T h r o u g h o u t the history of democratic 7 6. if not the sole. W h i l e there is a general presumption against imposing legal and other restrictions on conduct without a sufficient reason. as if the exercise of something called "liberty" had a preeminent value and were the main. as least insofar as their being met is a necessary condition for citizens to un­ derstand and to be able fruitfully to exercise the basic rights and liberties. G . O n e is that the equal basic liberties in this principle are specified by a list as fol­ lows: freedom of thought and liberty of conscience. These remarks are the merest sketch of a difficult idea. 7. §11: 61 (1st ed. T h a t the basic liberties are specified by a list is quite clear from Theory. A free market system must be set within a framework of political and legal institutions that adjust the longrun trend of economic forces so as to prevent excessive concentrations of property and wealth. those w h o have the same level of talent and abil­ ity and the same willingness to use these gifts should have the same pros­ pects of success regardless of their social class of origin.). especially those likely to lead to political domination. Fair equality of opportunity here means liberal equality. end of political and social justice. and finally. p . We come back to it from time to time.This principle may be preceded by a lexically prior principle requiring that basic needs be met. the rights and liberties covered b y the rule of law. Marxism. among other things. In all parts of soci­ ety there are to be roughly the same prospects of culture and achievement for those similarly motivated and endowed. the class into which they are born and develop until the age of reason.

more often. T h o s e basic rights and liberties protect and secure the scope required for the exercise of the two moral powers in the two fundamental cases j u s t mentioned: that is to say. O n e is histori­ cal: we survey various democratic regimes and assemble a list of rights and liberties that seem basic and are securely protected in what seem to be his­ torically the more successful regimes. and second. as it were. Here I should mention that there are three points of view injustice as fairness that it is essential to distinguish: the point of view of the parties in the original position. Keep in mind that the parties are. in association with others) their conceptions of the good. that liberty of con­ science and freedom of association enable citizens to develop and exercise their moral powers in forming and revising and in rationally pursuing (indi­ vidually or. 8 8. . p . 13. for these three points of view. T o exercise our powers in these ways is essen­ tial to us as free and equal citizens. We may know many things that we keep from them. and the point of view of you and me who are set­ ting up justice as fairness as a political conception and trying to use it to organize into one coherent view our considered judgments at all levels of generality. artificial persons who are part of a procedure of construction that we frame for our philosophical purposes.1). Justice as fairness follows this traditional view. in vari­ ous bills of rights and declarations of the rights of man. see Political Liberalism. the first fundamental case is the exercise of those powers in j u d g i n g the justice of basic institutions and social policies.4. that the equal political liberties and freedom of thought enable citizens to de­ velop and to exercise these powers in j u d g i n g the justice of the basic structure of society and its social policies. while the second fundamental case is the exercise of those powers in pursuing our conception of the g o o d . 28. but it is available to y o u and me in setting u p justice as fairness. A list of basic liberties can be drawn u p in two ways. the point of view of citizens in a well-ordered society. O f course. We are perfectly free to use it to specify the principles of justice we make available to the parties. for example.i j . Following this we say: first. as found. the veil of ignorance means that this kind of particular information is not available to the parties in the original position. Two Principles of Justice 45 thought the focus has been on achieving certain specific rights and liberties as well as specific constitutional guarantees. A second way of drawing u p a list of basic rights and liberties is analyti­ cal: we consider what liberties provide the political and social conditions essential for the adequate development and full exercise of the two moral powers of free and equal persons (§7.

are to be guaranteed b y a constitution (Theory. 10. Second Treatise of Government. T h i s priority means (as we have said) that the second principle (which includes the difference principle as one part) is always to be applied within a setting of background institutions that satisfy the requirements of the first principle (including the requirement of securing the fair value of the politi­ cal liberties). This distinction is derived from Locke. as well as in the procedures for amending the constitution. these es­ sentials being those crucial matters about w h i c h . the first princi­ ple is assigned priority. Observe that the first principle of justice applies not only to the ba­ sic structure (both principles d o this) but more specifically to what we think of as the constitution. and in so-called bills of rights. the objection runs. given the fact of pluralism. [See Political Liberalism.149. p. chap.4).] . It is sometimes objected to the difference principle as a principle of distributive jus­ tice that it contains no restrictions on the overall nature of permissible distributions. Consider the effects of fair equality of opportunity as applied to education. We cannot possibly take the difference principle seriously so long as we think of it by itself.5. In view of the fundamen­ tal nature of the basic rights and liberties. who speaks of the people's power to constitute the legislative as the first and fundamental law of all commonwealths. apart from its setting within prior principles. solely with the least advantaged." is to be suitably institutionalized in the form of a regime: in the right to vote and to hold office." as opposed 9 to "ordinary power. P R I N C I P L E S OF JUSTICE 13.141. T h e requirements of the prior principles have important dis­ tributive effects. working political agreement is most urgent (§9. explained in part b y the funda­ mental interests they protect. Observe also that some of these liberties. T h e s e matters belong to the so-called constitutional essentials. and given that the power of the people to con­ stitute the form of government is a superior power (distinct from the ordinary power exercised routinely b y officers of a regime). whether written or unwritten. I V ) . as b y definition they will in a well-ordered society. especially the equal political liberties and free­ d o m of thought and association. or the distributive effects of the fair value of the political liberties. 11. W h a t we may call "constituent power. But this objection is incor­ rect: it overlooks the fact that the parts of the two principles ofjustice are designed to work m tandem and apply as a unit. 11 T o explain the priority of the first principle over the second: 9. 358. 10 T h e fair value of the political liberties ensures that citizens similarly gifted and moti­ vated have roughly an equal chance of influencing the government's policy and of attaining positions of authority irrespective of their economic and social class. for example.46 II. John Locke. It is concerned. say. §§134.

It is important to note a distinction between the first and second principles of justice. or education. T h e first principle.6. provided the political will exists. T h e priority (or the primacy) of the basic equal liberties does not.2 . Nor can w e justify a selective service act that grants educational defer­ ments or exemptions to some on the grounds that doing this is a socially ef­ ficient way both to maintain the armed forces and to provide incentives to those otherwise subject to conscription to acquire valuable skills b y contin­ uing their education. although a 12. and is not counted a constitutional essential. 12 13.1 9 . Similarly.Two Principles of Justice 47 this priority rules out exchanges ("trade-offs. §58: 333L). as explained b y its interpreta­ tion. a lack of eco­ nomic means. a princi­ ple requiring an open society. 13. T h e s e conditions mean that the barriers to constitutional government (if such there are) spring largely from the political culture and existing effective interests. presuppose a high level of wealth and income. 1989). An Inquiry into Well-Being and Destitution (Oxford: Oxford University Press. . effective political institu­ tions can b e established to give adequate scope for the exercise of those freedoms. T h a t is. one with careers open to talents (to use the eighteenth-century phrase)—fair equality of opportunity requires more than that. Since conscription is a drastic interference with the basic liberties of equal citizenship. covers the constitutional essentials. 5 and passim. See Amartya Sen and Jean Dreze. Hunger and Public Action (Oxford: Oxford University Press. chap. ^93)? chaps. A further point about priority: in asserting the priority of the basic rights and liberties. the equal political liberties cannot be denied to certain groups on the grounds that their having these liberties may enable them to block policies needed for economic growth and efficiency. T h e second principle requires fair equality of opportunity and that social and economic inequalities b e gov­ erned b y the difference principle. w h i c h w e discuss in § § 1 7 . contrary to much opinion. for instance. For exam­ ple. we suppose historical. W h i l e some principle of opportunity is a constitutional essential—for example. or the many skills needed to run a democratic regime. it cannot be justified b y any needs less compelling than those of the defense of these equal liberties themselves {Theory." as economists say) between the basic rights and liberties covered b y the first principle and the social and economic? advantages regulated b y the difference principle. we suppose reasonably favorable conditions to ob­ tain. and Partha Dasgupta. and not from. economic and social conditions to be such that. 1 .

appeal to the political values that constitute the basis of free public reason (§26). T o some degree these matters are always open to reason­ able differences of opinion. and whether the constitutional essentials are assured is more or less visible on the face of the constitution and in its political arrangements and the way these work in practice. In the first stage. 13. the difference principle is more demand­ ing and is not so regarded. T h e basis for the distinction between the two principles is not that the first expresses political values while the second does not. we h o p e to setde at least these questions by. A t this last stage. the parties adopt the principles of justice be­ hind a veil of ignorance. and on the many kinds of issues arising at this point (Theory.3-4.] .5). In the other role it provides the background institutions of social and eco­ nomic justice in the form most appropriate to citizens seen as free and equal. the legislative stage in w h i c h laws are enacted as the con­ stitution allows and as the principles of justice require and permit. A l s o . §11: 53). The principles of justice are adopted and applied in a four-stage se­ 13 quence. §31:172- 176). Both principles express political values. PRINCIPLES OF JUSTICE social minimum providing for the basic needs of all citizens is also a consti­ tutional essential (§38. they depend on inference and j u d g m e n t in as­ sessing complex social and economic information. the second principle to the other (Theory. T o fulfill the liberal principle of legitimacy (§12. T h e questions involved in the first role concern the acquisition and the exercise of political power. Rather. §31:172-176. the first principle applying to one. B y contrast the second principle applies at the legislative stage and it bears on all kinds of social and economic legisla­ tion. Whether the aims of the second principle are realized is far more dif­ ficult to ascertain. [See Theory. 397~398. §49. pp.3). and Political Liberalism. everyone has complete access to all the facts.48 II. T h e first principle applies at the stage of the constitutional conven­ tion. we can expect more agreement on constitutional essentials than on issues of distributive justice in the narrower sense. In one role the basic structure specifies and secures citizens' equal basic liberties (including the fair value of the political liberties (§45)) and establishes a j u s t constitutional regime. and the final stage in w h i c h the rules are applied b y administrators and followed by citizens generally and the constitution and laws are interpreted b y members of the judiciary. Limitations on knowledge available to the parties are progressively relaxed in the next three stages: the stage of the constitu­ tional convention. we see the basic structure of society as hav­ ing two coordinate roles.

p p . Differences about the most appropriate principles of distributive justice in the narrower sense. it is nevertheless important to try to identify the idea of equality most appropriate to citizens viewed as free and equal. Rather. T h e two principles of justice.) T h e re14. 16-17. Two Principles of Justice 49 T h u s the grounds for distinguishing the constitutional essentials covered by the first principle and the institutions of distributive justice covered by the seconcf are not that the first principle expresses political values and the second does not. though not always properly." for there may be various nearby possibilities. 64 (Summer 1997): 765-807. including the difference principle with its implicit reference to equal division as a bench­ mark. within the existing political framework." University of Chicago Law Review. Mass. For a fuller discussion of the idea of reciprocity. of course. T h e idea of reciprocity also plays an important part in " T h e Idea of Public Reason Revisited. but in the main outlines. O n e way to see the point of the idea of constitutional essentials is to connect it with the idea of loyal opposition. xliv. xlvi. T h e i r so agreeing makes the government legiti­ mate in intention and the opposition loyal in its opposition. and the ideals that underlie them.: Harvard University Press. see Political Liberalism. reprinted in The Law of Peoples (Cambridge. a constitu­ tional regime is secure. and the introduction to the paperback edi­ tion. While the difference principle does not fall under the constitutional es­ sentials. (c) It is far easier to tell whether those essentials are realized. [As understood in justice as fairness. reciprocity is a relation between citizens ex­ pressed by principles of justice that regulate a social world in which all who are engaged in cooperation and do their part as the rules and procedures require are to benefit in an appro­ priate way as assessed by a suitable benchmark of comparison. and (d) It seems possible to gain agreement on what those essentials should be. (b) It is more urgent to settle the constitutional essentials. not in every detail. Where the loy­ alty of both is firm and their agreement mutually recognized. (I say "something like. formulate an idea of reciprocity between citizens. 13.i^. p p . 1999) and Collected Pap ers. .7. the grounds of the distinction are four: (a) T h e two principles apply to different stages in the application of principles and identify two distinct roles of the basic structure. I believe this idea involves reciprocity 14 at the deepest level and thus democratic equality properly understood requires something like the difference principle. can be adjudicated. and as normally and fully cooperating members of society over a complete life. T h e government and its loyal opposition agree on these constitutional essentials. itself an essential idea of a con­ stitutional regime. li.

T h i s second problem is that of allocative justice {Theory. from one generation to the next? Contrast this with the very different problem of h o w a given bun­ dle of commodities is to be distributed. T h e problem of distributive justice in justice as fairness is always this: h o w are the institutions of the basic structure to be regulated as one unified scheme of institutions so that a fair. Observe that particular distributions cannot be j u d g e d at all apart from the claims (entidements) of individuals earned b y their efforts within the fair system of cooperation from which those dis­ tributions result. T h e basic structure is arranged so that w h e n everyone follows the publicly recognized rules of cooperation. and w h o have not cooperated in any way to produce those commodities. and honors the claims the rules specify. allocate the bundle of commodities so as to achieve the greatest satisfaction summed over these individuals from the present into the future. the distribution of in­ come and wealth illustrates what we may call pure background procedural justice. W e reject the idea of allocative justice as incompatible with the fun­ damental idea b y which justice as fairness is organized: the idea of society as a fair system of social cooperation over time.1. and productive system of social cooperation can be maintained over time. for example. §14: 77). A s a political conception of justice. T h e Problem of Distributive Justice 14. the concept of allocative j u s - . 14. w e might. In a well-ordered society. Citizens are seen as cooper­ ating to produce the social resources on w h i c h their claims are made. PRINCIPLES OF JUSTICE maining sections of this part (§§14-22) try to clarify the content of this prin­ ciple and to clear u p a number of difficulties. In contrast to utilitarianism. individuals and associations may do as they wish insofar as the rules of institutions permit. the particular distributions of goods that result are acceptable as just (or at least as not unjust) whatever these distributions turn out to be. among various indi­ viduals whose particular needs. in which both the equal basic liberties (with their fair value) and fair equality of opportunity are secured.50 II. T o illustrate: accepting the assumptions implied b y interpersonal cardi­ nal comparisons of well-being.2. desires. T o elaborate: within the framework of background justice set u p b y the basic structure. and preferences are known to us. §14. §11: 5 6 . efficient. or allocated. the classical principle of utility (as found in Bentham and Sidgwick) can be seen as adapting the idea of allocative justice so as to be a single principle for the basic structure over time.

1 7 For example. and note the distinction made there between the three kinds of procedural justice. 15 It is background institutions that provide the setting for fair cooperation within w h i c h entidements arise. T h e draft rule in a professional sport such as bas­ ketball ranks teams in the opposite order from their standing in the league at the end of the season: championship teams go last in the draft of new players. . to prevent excessive concentrations of private power {Theory. chap. This defect I aim to correct in Part IV. so that in any given season each team can give any other a decent game. T h e y d o not involve any more continuous or regular interference with individuals' plans and actions than d o . T h e s e changes of players are necessary to achieve the aims and attractions of the sport and are not foreign to its pur­ pose.3. familiar forms of taxation. Since the effects of those rules are foreseen. from one generation to the n e x t . their requirements are foreseeable. T h e s e points can be made clearer as follows. 14. T h e word "back­ ground" in the phrase "background procedural justice" above is intended to indicate that certain rules must be included in the basic structure as a system of social cooperation so that this system remains fair over time. and other devices such as taxes. V. they are taken into account w h e n citizens draw u p their plans in 15. 16. Later on we survey some of these as found in a property-owning democracy (Part I V ) .Property-owning democracy is discussed in Theory.4. 0 14. Distributive Justice 51 tice has no application. 17. T h e r e is no criterion for a j u s t distribution apart from background institutions and the entitlements that arise from actually working through the p r o c e d u r e . §43: 245ft . back­ ground institutions must work to keep property and wealth evenly enough shared over time to preserve the fair value of the political liberties and fair equality of opportunity over generations. T h e term "background" is introduced here and is not used in Theory.). say. §14: 74-77. T h e required background rules are specified b y what is necessary to fulfill the two principles of justice. 16 Consider an example. but unfortunately the contrast between it and welfare-state capitalism is not made clear enough.l ^ . T h e y d o this by laws regulating bequest and inheritance of property. See Theory. T h i s rule provides for regular and periodic changes in the roster of teams and is designed to ensure that teams in the league are more or less evenly matched from year to year. Since the difference principle applies to institutions as public sys­ tems of rules.

as well as to make it likely that economic and social inequalities contribute in an effective way to the general good or. to the benefit of the least-advantaged members of society. 160-164.1. chap. are subject to the taxes. more exactly. I note two broad kinds of reasons for this: the first notes h o w social institutions work and the nature of the principles required to regulate them over time to maintain background justice. with the attractive idea that persons' social circumstances and their relations with one another should develop over time in accordance with fair agreements fairly arrived at. such as the fair value of the political liberties and fair equality of opportunity. p p . T h e y are essential to pre­ serve background justice. and their share of what they help to pro­ duce. M u c h as with Locke's conception of ideal his­ tory. His description of the Wilt Chamberlin ex­ ample. distributive justice may still be understood as a case of pure procedural justice. PRINCIPLES OF JUSTICE the first place. Like the draft rule in professional sports. Citizens understand that when they take part in social coop­ eration. §§47~48). and Utopia. w h i c h background institutions are known to impose. the conception of fair social cooperation injustice as fairness. as well as their rights to acquire and transfer property. as it seems he does. T h e remarks in this paragraph reply to the kind of objection Nozick raises to the dif­ ference principle in Anarchy. Suppose we begin. Consider an important criticism of Locke. suggests that to apply that principle to government must in­ volve continual interference with particular individual transactions. State. §15. say. T h e Basic Structure as Subject: First Kind of Reason 15. Even with these rules of background j u s ­ tice. Moreover. the difference principle (as well as the first principle and the first part of the second principle) respects legitimate expectations based on the publicly recognized rules and the entitlements earned b y indi­ viduals (Theory. N o w sup­ pose we start with a j u s t initial state in which everyone's possessions are j u s d y held. the arrangements required b y the dif­ ference principle are part of.52 II. and not foreign to. A characteristic feature of justice as fairness as a political conception is that it takes the basic structure as its primary subject. their property and wealth. 18 T h e rules of background institutions required by the two principles of justice (including the difference principle) are designed to achieve the aims and purposes of fair social cooperation over time. We then say that w h e n everyone respects persons' rights and 18. we might use certain principles to specify various rights and duties of persons. 7. .

20. §158. Basic Structure as Subject: First 53 duties. T o preserve these conditions is the task of the rules of pure proce­ dural background justice. by laws governing inheritance and be­ quest. and m u c h else.2. no matter h o w distant in time. the succeeding states are also j u s t . earlier j u s t distributions of assets of all kinds d o not ensure the justice of later distributions.i j . however free and fair particular transactions between in­ dividuals and associations may look when viewed locally and apart from background institutions. h o w people acquire property so as to make its distribution more equal. Unless the basic structure is regulated over time. It is necessary to regulate. T h i s is because principles applying to these agreements di­ recdy (for example. the fair value of the political liberties. Call this an ideal historical process v i e w . 19 T o work out this idea we need an account not only of the just initial state and of fair agreements. but also of just social conditions under w h i c h fair agreements are to be reached. and so on. State. and these concentrations are likely to undermine fair equality of opportunity. to provide fair equality of opportunity in education. T h e kind of limits and provisos that in Locke's view apply direcdy to the separate transactions of individuals and associations in the state of nature are not stringent enough to ensure that fair background conditions are maintained. is a division of labor between two kinds of princi19. and subsequent social conditions may also have been just for some time. then. the accumulated results of many separate and seemingly fair agree­ ments entered into b y individuals and associations are likely over an ex­ tended period to undermine the background conditions required for free and fair agreements. Even though the initial state may have been just." Philosophy and Public Affairs 15 (Fall 1986): 301-324. and Legitimacy: Locke's Theory of the State. the law of contract) do not alone suffice to preserve background justice. . Choice. as we can tell from Second Treatise. W h a t is needed. in Locke's case they fail to guarantee the equal political liberties. and Utopia is an example of this kind of view. T h a t such rules of background justice are in force over time does not de­ tract from but rather makes possible the important values expressed by free and fair agreements reached b y individuals and associations within the ba­ sic structure. 20 15. For example. For the outcome of these transactions taken to­ gether is affected b y all kinds of contingencies and unforeseeable conse­ quences. as well as the principles for acquiring and transferring property. Very considerable wealth and property may accumu­ late in a few hands. Nozick's Anarchy. "Structure. See Joshua Cohen.

Since a public conception of justice needs clear. W h a t counts is the workings of social in­ stitutions now.). the particu­ lar distribution that results is acceptable as j u s t whatever that distribution turns out to be (§14. individuals and associations are then left free to advance their (permissible) ends within the framework of the basic struc­ ture. O n c e the many transactions and agreements of individuals and as­ sociations are framed within a just basic structure. Taking the basic structure as the primary subject enables us to regard distributive justice as a case of pure background procedural justice: when everyone follows the publicly recognized rules of cooperation. secure in the knowledge that elsewhere in the social system the regula­ tions necessary to preserve background justice are in force. each kind suitably specified: first. O n c e this division of labor is set u p . they specify this concept in different ways. we have an ideal social process view. §14: j6f. By contrast. as a social process view. T h e contrast with Locke's ideal historical process view is in part this: while both views use the concept of pure procedural justice. whatever their generation or social position. of which justice as fairness is an example. those that regulate the basic struc­ ture over time and are designed to preserve background justice from one generation to the next.2).3. Defects in ei­ ther kind of principle can result in a serious failure of the conception of j u s ­ tice as a whole. and a benchmark of the state of nature—the level of well-be- . T h e historical process view focuses on the transactions of individuals and associations as these are constrained by the principles and provisos ap­ plying directly to the parties in particular transactions. Society is an ongoing scheme of fair cooperation over time without any specified beginning or end relevant for political justice. justice as fairness focuses first on the basic structure and on the regulations required to maintain background justice over time for all persons equally. T h i s allows us to abstract from the enormous com­ plexities of the innumerable transactions of daily life and frees us from hav­ ing to keep track of the changing relative positions of particular individuals (Theory.54 II. and second. simple. T h e principles of justice specify the form of background justice apart from all particular historical conditions. and intel­ ligible rules. 15. we rely on an institutional division of labor between principles required to preserve background justice and principles that apply direcdy to particular transactions between individuals and associations. PRINCIPLES OF JUSTICE pies. those that apply direcdy to the separate and free transactions between individuals and associations.

unknowable. (b) their native endowments (as opposed to their realized endow­ ments). even a well-ordered one. and fortuitous contingencies. . T h e y enter that social world only b y birth. our prospects over life are deeply af­ fected b y social. Recall that in explaining the emphasis put on the basic structure as subject. §16. It is a his­ torical surd. A n d since any modern so­ ciety. and. T h e Basic Structure as Subject: Second Kind of Reason 16. say. of course. (c) their g o o d or ill fortune. T h e second kind of reason for taking the basic structure as the pri­ mary subject derives from its profound and pervasive influence on the per­ sons w h o live under its institutions. See Theory. we said that we view citizens as born into society: it is there that they will lead a complete life. uses those contingencies to meet certain social purposes. N o such decisive arguments are available. w e ask what kinds of inequalities a wellordered society would allow or be particularly concerned to avoid. of no signifi21 cance. and b y the way the basic structure. natural. b y periods of involuntary unemployment and regional economic decline). and their opportunities to develop these endowments as af­ fected b y their social class of origin. to show conclusively that the basic structure is the appropriate subject of political justice. or g o o d or bad luck. but even if it could be known. over the course of life (how they are affected b y illness and accident.16. as everything de21. then.1. Basic Structure as Subject: Second 55 ing (however specified) of individuals in that state—plays no role. Even in a well-ordered society. Pointing out these three kinds of contingencies is not enough. by setting u p inequalities. §12: 69. leave it only b y death. Justice as fairness focuses on inequalities in citizens' life-prospects—their prospects over a complete life (as specified b y an appropriate index of pri­ mary goods)—as these prospects are affected b y three kinds of contingen­ cies: (a) their social class of origin: the class into which they are born and develop before the age of reason. though the point is not stated sufficiendy sharply. must rely on some inequalities to be well de­ signed and effectively organized.

is an example. T h i s task of education belongs to what we may call the wide role of a political c o n c e p t i o n . w e w o u l d not be taking seriously the idea of society as a fair system of cooperation between citizens as free and equal. PRINCIPLES OF JUSTICE pends on h o w the conception of justice as fairness hangs together as a whole. See The Concept of Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press. as well as publicly exhibit and encourage this ideal of political justice. pp. depends both on the inequalities associated with our social position and on the public principles of justice that society not merely professes but more or less effectively uses to regulate the institutions of background justice. We assess our prospects in life ac­ cording to our place in society and we form our ends and purposes in the light of the means and opportunities we can realistically expect. and indeed over a complete life. T h i s it does by the expectations and ambitions it encourages in the present. If citizens of a well-ordered society are to recognize one another as free and equal. if left to their own re­ flections. basic institutions must educate them to this conception of themselves.56 II.1)? 16. native intelligence 22. L.2. . a conception w h i c h . H . Yet if w e ignore the inequalities in people's prospects in life arising from these contingencies and let those inequalities work themselves out while failing to institute the regulations necessary to preserve background justice. A . By contrast. native endowments of various kinds (say. as well as the vigor and con­ fidence with w h i c h they pursue them. which draws on Hume. Consider further h o w the three contingencies (noted above) affect the content of people's final ends and purposes. Hence the basic structure as a social and economic regime is not only an ar­ rangement that satisfies given desires and aspirations but also an arrange­ ment that arouses further desires and aspirations in the future. or resigned and apathetic. Moreover. T h i s reminds us that what w e are asking is precisely: what principles of background justice are presupposed in taking seriously that idea of society (§12. they would most likely never form. 189-195. So whether we are hopeful and optimistic about our future. the narrow role might be something like that of specifying the basic prin­ ciples and most essential rules that must be followed for political society to be enduring and stable. Acquaintance with and participation in that public culture is one way citizens learn to conceive of themselves as free and equal. Hart's idea of the minimum content of natural law. 22 In this role such a conception is part of the public political culture: its first principles are embodied in the institutions of the basic structure and appealed to in their interpretation. 1961). much less accept and desire to realize.

and.V]. something we could not have foreseen at the outset. N o t only our conception of ourselves. W h o Are the Least Advantaged? 17. T h e y are merely potential and cannot come to fruition apart from social conditions. it encourages in them atti­ tudes of optimism and confidence in their future. T h e s e are various social conditions and all-purpose means that are generally necessary to enable citizens adequately to develop and ftdly exercise their two moral powers. from a wide range of possibilities that might have been fulfilled. A sharp definition of that structure might have gotten in the way of fitting it into these other ideas.3. Here we look to the social requirements and the nor- . and when realized they can take but one or a few of many possi­ ble forms. and to pursue their determinate con­ ceptions of the good. So far. and a sense of being treated fairly in view of the public principles w h i c h are seen as effectively regulating economic and social inequalities (as explained under the second kind of reason). 16. starting with the basic structure seems to accord with the other ideas of justice as fairness. Educated and trained abilities are always a selection. We have referred to the least advantaged. A n d as a framework that preserves back­ ground justice over time from one generation to the next it realizes the idea (central to justice as fairness) of pure background procedural justice as an ideal social process (as explained under the first kind of reason).1. we take the basic structure as the primary subject. (Recall the remarks in §4. T o sum up: for the two kinds of reasons noted in this and the pre­ ceding section. and our aims and ambitions. op­ portunities and social position. but also our realized abilities and talents. and the influence of good and ill fortune. It also an­ swers to the public role of educating citizens to a conception of themselves as free and equal.3. Who Are the Least Advantaged? 57 and natural ability) are not fixed natural assets with a constant capacity. and institutions concerned with their early discipline and use. T h i s structure comprises social institutions within which human beings may de­ velop their moral powers and become fully cooperating members of a soci­ ety of free and equal citizens. just as a sharp definition of them would have gotten in the way of fitting them to it. and a small selection at that. w h e n properly regulated. but w h o are they and h o w are they singled out? T o answer these questions we introduce the idea of primary goods. A m o n g what affects their realization are social attitudes of encour­ agement and support. reflect our personal history. then.) §17.

VII. We distinguish five kinds of such goods: (i) T h e basic rights and liberties: freedom of thought and liberty of con­ science. as citizens w h o are fully cooperating members of soci­ ety. W h i l e the list of primary goods rests in part on the gen­ eral facts and requirements of social life. endowed with the moral powers. social. I am indebted to a number of people. or historical facts. the account of primary goods does not rest solely on psychological. especially to Joshua Cohen and Joshua Rabinowitz. (iii) Powers and prerogatives of offices and positions of authority and re­ sponsibility. M . of course. T . understood as all-purpose means (having an ex23. (ii) Freedom of movement and free choice of occupation against a back­ ground of diverse opportunities. and successful execution. 24. We need at least a rough idea of rational plans of life showing w h y these plans usually have a certain structure and depend on certain primary goods for their formation. or to prefer or even to crave. w h i c h opportunities allow the pursuit of a variety of ends and give effect to decisions to revise and alter them. revision. and to Allen Buchanan.2. ^ J i v ) Income and wealth. and much else. . and Samuel Schemer for valuable discussion. T h e s e rights and liberties are essential institu­ tional conditions required for the adequate development and full and in­ formed exercise of the two moral powers (in the two fundamental cases (§134)). T h i s normative conception is necessary to identify the appropriate list of pri­ mary g o o d s . and capable of being a fully cooperating member of society. We use the political conception. W h a t count as primary goods depends. their normal phases and require­ ments of nurture. A sketch of the features of rational plans is given in Theory. T h e s e goods are things citizens need as free and equal persons living a complete life. and not a compre­ hensive moral doctrine. as stressed above. who first raised the difficulty. 24 17. it does so only together with a p o ­ litical conception of the person as free and equal. and not merely as human beings apart from any normative conception. 23 But. relations of social interdependence.58 II. Scanlon. and the rest (§13). they are not things it is simply rational to want or desire. Primary goods are things needed and required b y persons seen in the light of the political con­ ception of persons. and to Michael Teitelman. in specifying those needs and requirements. Unhappily Theory is at best ambiguous on this matter. on various general facts about human needs and abilities. PRINCIPLES OF JUSTICE mal circumstances of human life in a democratic society. chap.

17. and many of the least (naturally) endowed and many who experience more bad luck and misfortune (§16). 1972)). their available fair opportunities. Mass. A s w e have said. their (reasonable) expectations of income and wealth seen from their social position. and the like) that enable us to compare their situ­ ation under all the various schemes of social cooperation it is feasible to consider. N o t e that primary goods are given b y reference to objective features of citizens' social circumstances. and then to select the scheme under 25. that it turns out. "Fairness to Goodness." Philosophical Re­ view 84 (October 1975): §111. or Indians or British. For this idea of exchange value. Rather. it happens that there may be a tendency for such features to characterize many who belong to that group. or as whites or blacks. These expectations are their life-prospects. 26 T o say that inequalities in income and wealth are to b e ar­ ranged for the greatest benefit of the least advantaged simply means that w e are to compare schemes of cooperation b y seeing h o w well off the least ad­ vantaged are under each scheme. understood as those aspects of basic institutions normally essential if citizens are to have a lively sense of their worth as persons and to be able to advance their ends with self-confidence. the least advantaged are those belonging to the income class with the lowest expectations. as commonsense political sociology might suggest. nationality. their income and wealth.3. for example. T h e least advantaged are never identifiable as men or women. Note here that in the simplest form of the difference principle the individuals w h o belong to the least advantaged group are not identifiable apart from. the inequalities to which the difference principle applies are differences in citizens' (reasonable) expectations of primary goods over a complete life. T h e two principles of justice assess the basic structure according to how it regulates citizens' shares of primary goods. T h e y may not be those worst off in another. Also in Collected Papers. 26. the worst off un­ der any scheme of cooperation are simply the individuals who are worst off under that par­ ticular scheme. and so on. say. that the least advan­ c e d . nevertheless those attributes do not define the least ad­ vantaged. the term "the least advantaged" is not a rigid designator (to use Saul Kripke's term. features open to public view: their secured institutional rights and liberties. or independendy of. In a well-ordered society where all citizens' equal basic rights and liberties and fair opportunities are secure. gender. Rather. identified by income and wealth. Who Are the Least change v a l u e ) -TKeyTnay 25 Advantaged? 59 generally needed to achieve a w i d e range of ends whatever (v) T h e social bases of self-respect.: Harvard University Press. see Rawls.ij. include many individuals born into the least-favored 8 °cial class of origin. Taking these cooperative schemes as possible social worlds (let's say) over which the names of indi­ viduals refer to (rigidly designate) the same individuals in each possible (social) world. T h e y are not individuals identified by natural or other features (race. . these shares being speci­ fied in terms of an appropriate index. see Naming and Necessity (Cambridge. Even supposing.

T o highlight the objective character of primary goods. can agree u p o n for the purpose of making the inter­ personal comparisons required for workable political principles. then. see the discussion of the provision of health care in Part IV. 27 T h e s e social bases are things like the insti­ tutional fact that citizens have equal basic rights. We also d o not need a measure of citizens' moral powers and other abilities. T h e objective character of primary goods also is shown in the fact that in applying the principles of justice we do not consider esti­ mates of citizens' overall happiness as given. say. . T h e account of primary goods belongs. PRINCIPLES OF JUSTICE which the least advantaged are better off than they are under any other scheme. Theory is ambiguous on this point. then. Primary goods. or moral doctrine. or their desires (as in a utilitarian view). Wlule pluralism means that there can be no agreement on a complete conception of the g o o d grounded in a comprehensive doctrine. and the social bases that help to support that attitude. T h e reason for remaining within the political conception is by now familiar: it is in order to hold open the possibility of finding a public basis of justification supported b y an overlap­ ping consensus. note that it is not self-respect as an attitude toward oneself but the social bases of self-respect that count as a primary g o o d . It fails to distinguish between self-respect as an at­ titude. N o r do we consider their g o o d in the light of some moral or associational or personal ideal. and they can be freely used in justice as fairness so long as they fit within it as political conceptions (§43). T h e partial conception of the good set out by the account of primary goods is one of them. 27. or even as specified b y what sev­ eral such doctrines may hold in c o m m o n concerning our (comprehensive) good.60 II. O n this point. wholly within justice as fairness as a political conception of justice. some conceptions of the good are indispensable for any account of justice. T h e s e goods belong to a partial con­ ception of the g o o d that citizens. §51. and the public recognition of that fact and that everyone endorses the difference principle. or of h o w far citizens have actually realized them. 28. political or other. 28 Citizens' appropriate shares of primary goods are not regarded as ap­ proximating to their good as specified b y any particular comprehensive re­ ligious. philosophical. the preserving of which is a fundamental interest. w h o affirm a plurality of conflicting com­ prehensive doctrines. are what free and equal persons (as specified b y the political conception) need as citizens. itself a form of reciprocity. b y the fulfillment of their (rational) preferences. so long as their powers and abilities suffice for them to be normal cooperating members of society.

T h i s is shown in the fact x 2 i ^ a t the efficiency frontier runs northwest and southeast. For example. or might exist. assume that there is an already given bundle of goods to be shared between the two persons x and x . § i 2 : 58-62. we assume. But this is not h o w justice as fairness proceeds. This assumption is not emphasized sufficiendy in Theory. We n o w turn to the difference principle as a principle of distributive justice in the narrow sense. §12: 5gf. . A n d no mention is made of these Persons as being engaged in cooperation to produce those goods.1). is always productive. Rather.4. The Difference Principle 61 17.18. O u r thought is not that primary goods are fair to conceptions of the good associated with comprehensive doctrines b y striking a fair balance be­ tween them. T h i s figure is similar to figure 6 in Theory. the figures in Theory. We leave aside the comprehensive doctrines that n o w exist. T h e hope is that this conception with its account of pri­ mary goods can win the support of an overlapping consensus. and without c o o p ­ eration there w o u l d be nothing p r o d u c e d and so nothing to distribute. 29.1. It works in tandem with these two prior principles and it is always to b e applied within background institu­ tions in which those principles are satisfied. §13: 66.T h e explanation of the principle of (Pareto) efficiency for institutions is found in Theory. §18. O n e is to look at the various comprehensive doctrines actually found in society and specify an index of such goods as a kind of average of what those w h o affirm the opposing doctrines w o u l d need b y way of institutional protections and all-purpose means. T h e Difference Principle: Its Meaning 18. 29 Social cooperation. 30 T h e O P curve (P for production) runs northeast from the origin un­ 31 til it bends downward to the southeast. Instead. Figure 1 implies that there is production: M A G and L A G (Xi and x in the figure in 2 Theory) are n o w representative individuals of the more and the less advan­ taged groups respectively. 31. 30. D o i n g this might seem the best way to achieve an overlapping consensus. it works u p a political conception from the fundamental idea of society as a fair system of social cooperation. §§12-13. the two groups engaged in productive coopera­ tion. A final comment: there are at least two ways to proceed in specify­ ing a list of primary goods. Recall that it is subordinate to both the first principle of justice (guaranteeing the equal basic liberties) and the principle of fair equality of opportunity (§13. or have existed. primary goods are fair to free and equal citizens: these goods enable them to advance their permissible conceptions of the g o o d (those the pursuit of which are compatible with justice).

T h e fact that they are parallel means that a greater index of primary goods (here understood as a person's prospects of income and wealth over a complete life) for one group (the M A G ) is justified only insofar as it adds to the index of the other group (the L A G ) . T h e line JJ parallel to the x-axis is the highest equal-justice line touched by the O P curve at its maximum at D . as it does beyond D . T h e set of efficient points goes from D to the feudal point F.62 II. We imagine the whole space southeast of the 45-degree line to be filled with paral­ lel equal-justice lines. represented by the 45-degree line. the y-axis the less advantaged (LAG). N is the Nash point. other things equal. PRINCIPLES OF JUSTICE Figure l y = LAG J F O x = MAG In this figure the distances along the two axes are measured in terms of an index of primary goods. T h e line JJ is simply the highest such line that can be reached when we are constrained to move along the O P curve. where the sum of individual utilities is maximized (again with the same assumption). and B is the Bentham point. Equal-jus­ tice lines represent how claims to goods cooperatively produced are to be shared among those who produced them. with the x-axis the more advantaged group ( M A G ) . Note that D is the efficient point near­ est to equality. When this is no longer true. where the product of utilities is maximized (if we assume utilities to be linear in indexes of pri­ mary goods). Soci­ ety aims. T h e y are equal-justice lines in the sense that any point on a line is equally acceptable provided it is reached by an O P curve of a scheme of cooperation satisfying the principles of justice prior to the difference principle. Observe that the parallel lines are equal-justice lines and not indifference lines of the familiar kind that represent evaluations of individual or social welfare. then . to reach the highest equal-justice line measured by the distance from O along the 45-degree line. and they reflect an idea of reciprocity. T o do this it moves as far northeast as pos­ sible along the O P curve and stops when this curve bends to the southeast. there is an equal-justice line. T h u s from each point on the 45-degree line running northeast from the origin. even though the index increases for the more advantaged group. at which the O P curve becomes vertical.

A utilitarian equaljustice line through B would be a smooth curve convex to the origin running from northwest to southeast. 18. to cover the costs of training and education. if they touch the same JJ fine. 18. A scheme of cooperation is given in large part b y h o w its public rules organize productive activity. Contrary to reciprocity. A given O P curve is paired with a particular scheme of cooperation: it indicates the returns to the two groups when only wages and salaries are changed. different O P curves for different schemes of cooperation. showing the M A G may gain more even though the L A G re­ ceive less. in general. This is shown by the fact that N and B are on lower equal-justice lines than D . B y varying wages and salaries. T o explain: take any point on the O P curve: if the wages to the more ad­ vantaged is the corresponding point on the x-axis. When these curves criss-cross. the O P curve lies everywhere southeast of the 45-degree line. more may be produced.3. When we represent the index of the M A G on the x-axis. and to act as incentives. and some schemes are more effectively designed than others. the one whose tangent is to the left of the other is best. the difference principle directs society to aim at the highest point on the O P curve of the most effectively designed scheme of cooperation. A further feature of the difference principle is that it does not re­ quire continual economic growth over generations to maximize upward indefinitely the expectations of the least advantaged (assessed in terms of 32. the M A G and the L A G are specified by refer­ ence to their shares in the output and not as particular individuals identifiable independendy of the scheme of cooperation. O n e scheme is more ef­ fective than another if its O P curve always gives a greater return to the less advantaged for any given return to the more advantaged.2. . 32 Other things be­ ing equal. the one tangent to the highest JJ fine is best. T h u s there are. trade-offs are permitted. then the wages to the less advantaged is the corresponding point on the y-axis. T h e s e schemes include sched­ ules of wages and salaries to be paid out of output. assign vari­ ous roles to those engaged in it.l8. specify the division of labor. Finally. The Difference Principle 63 the reciprocity implicit in the difference principle no longer obtains. to mark positions of responsibility and encour­ age persons to fill them. T h i s is because over time the greater re­ turns to the more advantaged serve. note that as indicated in §17. T h e origin of the O P curve represents the equal division point: both groups receive the same re­ muneration. and so on. among other things.

and how­ ever willing people are to work to earn their greater shares of output. those of the less advantaged w o u l d also be less. We should not rule out Mill's idea of a society in a j u s t stationary state 33 where (real) capital accumulation may c e a s e .64 II. then. . T h e general level of wealth in society. PRINCIPLES OF JUSTICE income and wealth). 34. including the well-being of the least advantaged. W h a t kind of work people d o . and h o w hard they d o it. Society would always be on the upwardrising part or at the top of the O P c u r v e . T h a t would not be a reasonable conception of justice. IV. 18. We have seen that the two principles of justice apply to citizens as identified b y their indexes of primary goods. Otherwise the inequalities are not permissible. V I . 34 Permissible inequalities (thus de­ fined) satisfy that condition and are compatible with a social product of a steady-state equilibrium in w h i c h a j u s t basic structure is supported and re­ produced over time. W h a t the difference principle does require is that during an appropriate interval of time the differences in income and wealth earned in producing the social product be such that if the legitimate expectations of the more advantaged were less. It is natural to ask: W h y are distinctions of race and gender not explicidy included among the three contingencies noted earlier (§16)? H o w can one ignore such historical facts as slavery (in the antebellum South) and the inequalities between men and w o m e n resulting from the absence of provisions to make good women's ex- 33. depends on people's decisions as to h o w to lead their lives. See his Principles of Political Economy. is u p to them to decide in light of the various incentives society offers. exist­ ing inequalities must contribute effectively to the benefit of the least advan­ taged. bk. See the distinction at Theory. the difference principle is essentially a princi­ ple of reciprocity. ch. T h i s condition brings out that even if it uses the idea of maximizing the expecta­ tions of the least advantaged. T h e priority of liberty means that we cannot b e forced to engage in work that is highly productive in terms of material goods. is that however great the general level of wealth—whether high or low—the existing inequalities are to fulfill the condition of benefiting others as well as ourselves. A well-ordered society is specified so as to allow for this possibility.4. §13: 68 between perfecdy just schemes and those just throughout. Another aspect of the same point is this: the difference principle requires that however great the inequalities in wealth and income may be. W h a t the difference principle requires.

n. to take the basic structure as the pri­ mary subject of justice. those of the representative equal citizen (whose ba­ sic equal liberties and fair opportunities are secure) and of the representa­ tives of various levels of income and wealth. Taking the simplest form of the difference princi­ ple. T h u s if men. and so the positions they specify are points of view from w h i c h the basic structure must be j u d g e d . say. and it would seem never have been. 26). It appears that historically these inequalities have arisen from inequalities in political power and con­ trol of economic resources. T h o s e characteristics cannot be changed. the two principles of justice are to be applied to the basic structure by assessing it from certain standard points of view: namely. so sweeping a historical j u d g m e n t may occasionally be uncertain. In ideal theory. T o be sure. the least advantaged are those w h o share with other citizens the basic equal liberties and fair opportunities but have the least income and wealth. T h e y are not now. raising. §16: 85).5. to the advantage of w o m e n or less favored races. sometimes other positions must be taken into account. Distinctions based on gender and race are of this kind. what contingencies tend to gen­ erate troubling inequalities even in a well-ordered society and thus prompt us. have greater basic rights or greater opportunities than women. these in­ equalities can be justified only if they are to the advantage of w o m e n and acceptable from their point of view. Similarly for unequal basic rights and opportunities founded on race (Theory.18. We use income and wealth to specify this group.1) to be among the least advantaged. 18. S u p p o s e . in . and second. h o w within ideal theory should the least advantaged be specified? While there is some tendency for individuals most adversely affected b y the three contingencies (§16. or allowing some persons only lesser opportunities. as stated in Theory. Nevertheless. for example. along with other considerations. The Difference Principle 65 tra burden in the bearing. However. this group is defined not b y reference to those contingencies but b y an index of pri­ mary goods (§17. Within that account we need to distinguish two questions: first. then such in­ equalities will single out relevant positions. that certain fixed natural characteristics are used as grounds for assigning unequal basic rights. and educating children so as to secure their fair equality of opportunity? T h e answer is that we are mainly concerned with ideal theory: the ac­ count of the well-ordered society of justice as fairness. and the particular individ­ uals w h o belong to it may change from one arrangement of the basic struc­ ture to another. §16.

O n the other hand: (b) suppose that the most . 18. gender and race w o u l d not specify rel­ evant points of view. §16: 85).66 II. with the equal basic liberties and fair equality of opportunity secured. T h e serious problems arising from existing discrimi­ nation and distinctions based on gender and race are not on its agenda.) T h i s may seem unjust to the less advantaged.1. T o be a proper counterexample a case must sat­ isfy all the relevant assumptions made in applying or in arguing for the principles of justice.1). w o u l d certainly be seriously defective should they lack the resources to articulate the political values essential to justify the legal and social institutions needed to secure the equality of w o m e n and minorities. distinctions of gender and race give rise to further relevant positions to w h i c h a special form of the difference principle applies (Theory. Objections via Counterexamples 19. w h i c h is to present certain principles of justice and then to check them against only a few of the classical problems of political justice as these would be settled within ideal theory. Part of the idea of reflective equilibrium is to test the soundness of first principles by seeing whether we can endorse on reflection the j u d g ­ ments to w h i c h they lead in cases sometimes framed for this purpose: counterexamples so-called. either in that work's agenda or in its conception of justice. but an omission is not as such a fault. otherwise it misses the mark. Consider first two related objections: (a) suppose the most effective O P curve rises very slowly to its maximum. and other liberal conceptions like it.6. Theory takes u p only two questions of partial compli­ ance (or nonideal) theory. In Part IV. then the share of the more advan­ taged is m u c h greater than the share to the less advantaged. L e t us look at three ob­ jections via counterexamples to illustrate this. §50. T h i s is indeed an omission in Theory. imagine D moved far to the right along the line JJ. We h o p e that in a well-or­ dered society under favorable conditions. PRINCIPLES OF JUSTICE a well-ordered society in the present age no such uncertainty obtains. there is a brief discussion of the nature of the family and the equality of w o m e n . so justice as fairness supposes that the standard relevant positions specified by the primary goods should suffice. civil disobedience and conscientious refusal to serve in an unjust war. Whether fault there be depends on h o w well that conception articulates the political values necessary to deal with these questions. T o conclude: w h e n used in a certain way. (In Figure 1 (§18. Justice as fairness. §19.

then the more ad­ vantaged do not receive a m u c h greater share even though their receiving this share w o u l d only slightly reduce the share of the less advantaged. how­ ever.lg. are not sufficient proof of collusion. T h i s means that large potential gains (or losses) to one group are paired with small potential losses (or gains) for the other group. in meeting the objection. the supply is low. and the many possibil­ ities of social organization. and should competitive background institutions with fair opportunity not work properly in their case. High earnings. in one case before. T h e number of opera singers is small enough so that their earnings are not a serious worry in any case. . Whereas doctors are a large group. say by restricting entry into the medical profession. Notice here how. o r in similar cases. the demand is high. T h e idea is that given the equal basic liberties and fair equality of opportunity. there surely ex- 35. In such cases w e are tempted to think some adjustments should be made to achieve a greater overall gain. given the required background institutions securing both the equal basic liberties and fair equality of opportunity. imagine the arc from D through N and B and beyond stretched far to the right). W i t h background in­ stitutions of fair equality of opportunity and workable competition required by the prior principles of justice^ the more advantaged cannot unite as a group and then exploit their market power to force increases in their in­ come. but not forever fixed as is the supply of the paintings by old masters. we rely on the way the difference principle works in tandem with the prior principles. 35 T h i s has been mentioned before. we would have to examine the causes for the failure of competitive ar­ rangements and try to fix them if that can be done consistent with the prior principles. T h e income of opera singers seems largely deter­ mined by free demand and supply.For example. (In the figure. then the O P curve should rise quickly enough to its maximum so that the ratio of shares in favor of the more advantaged is not likely to strike us as unjust. T h i s may seem unjust to the more advantaged. and if the scheme of cooperation is effectively designed. Objections via Counterexamples 67 effective O P curve falls very slowly after its maximum. T h e re­ ply is that. here we see it illustrated. besides they work hard and spread joy. background institutions prevent doctors from forming an association to push up the cost of medical care and thus to raise the income of doctors. the most effective O P curve is very unlikely to have the flat slopes described above. In both cases. or by agreeing to charge higher fees. T h u s : (i) In reply to (a): if citizens have fair and equal opportunities to develop their native endowments and to acquire socially productive skills. in the other after. (ii) In reply to (b): given the same assumptions as in (i). We might also have to reconsider the soundness of the difference principle. the open competition between the greater numbers of the well-trained and better ed­ ucated reduces the ratio of shares until it lies within an acceptable range. the troubling feature is the rather flat slope of the O P curve. the maximum. and in the short run nearly fixed.

PRINCIPLES OF JUSTICE ists some institutional device to transfer at least part of the large return of the more advantaged to the less advantaged. W e simply tabulate w h o gets what. or shape. the actual ratio strikes us as u n j u s t . I am indebted to Ronald Dworkin for pointing out the need to make this point explicit. 36 T h e ratio of shares is. . It is as if a state of reflective equilibrium is a bit upset. for all our principles are met. It is simply that the actual ratio may disturb us and make us wonder. We hope the disparities that do occur fall within a range where we are not thus troubled. we do not have any further criterion to judge whether the ratio is unjust. We cannot tell simply b y listing w h o gets what whether the distribution arises from the most (or an) effectively designed system of cooperation sat­ isfying the difference principle. Plainly the difference principle is not egalitarian in that sense. we hope that the observable features of the distributions that result fall in a range where they do not seem unjust. within justice as fairness. 19. N o w it seems impossible to specify plausible limits on this ratio that can gain wide assent. and one that can be ascertained apart from the scheme of cooper­ ation itself. It is.68 II. In a society well ordered by the two principles of justice. T h e difference principle specifies no definite limits within w h i c h the ratio of the shares of the more and less advantaged is to fall. in 36. It is best to leave the limits unspecified and try to ignore the observable features of distributions. T h e simplest limit. O f course. an observable feature of the distribution of goods. of course. we hope to avoid having to specify such limits. O n e reason is that it is not observable shares alone. O u r aim is achieved should the difference principle yield satisfactory conclusions in social worlds that fulfill the principles prior to it. say. or their ratio. to reduce their return b e y o n d the maximum of the O P curve. b y taxation.2. In each reply the idea is that the shapes of O P curves assumed in objections (a) and (b) do not in fact occur when the basic structure satisfies the prior principles. on due reflection. since w e want to leave this ratio to fall where it may. of which their role as incentives is but one. or their overall shape. egalitarian in a sense to be discussed later in Part III: it selects the efficient point on the O P curve closest to equality (this is obvious from Figure 1. as the outcome of pure background procedural justice. since it recognizes the need for inequalities in social and economic organization. but whether those receiving these shares have made an appropriate contribu­ tion to the g o o d of others b y training and educating their native endow­ ments and putting them to work within a fair system of social cooperation. that count. T h i s is perfecdy acceptable unless. however. to impose on distributions is strict equality in all social goods. Indeed.

O n l y one place is cited (Theory. in w h i c h . 38 T h e idea of a representative man ("individ­ ual" would have been better) is a familiar and handy way of speaking about 37. occurring among several appendixes.1 have drawn heavily on Barry's comments and any merits of my remarks are due to him. right after § 1 6 . with the distributions of primary goods as shown. I should add that the example is of no importance in Parfit's book.3. as Theory is alleged to say. Reasons and Persons (Oxford: Oxford University Press. this one written with John Broome. I consider a third counterexample meant to show that the difference principle needs revision. Discussing it in some detail will bring out several points to remember in testing that p r i n c i p l e . What I say is not in any way a criticism of that remarkable work. w o u l d have been even better off under (2). by income and wealth. 490-493. 26. 19. as we have seen. In ideal theory. See §17. the Indians." T h e mistake in the alleged counterexample is clear: the cited passage oc­ curs early in Theory. n. §17: 1 0 3 . 1984). T h e example is meant to show that it is not correct.1 am grateful to Brian Barry for sending me his comments on the example which he presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Associ­ ation in 1985.ig. 37 Indians (1) (2) (3) 100 120 115 British 100 110 140 In this example there are only three alternative constitutions for India in 1800.) as grounds for this interpretation: "B (the leastfavored representative man) can accept A's (the more favored representative man) being better off since A's advantages have been gained in ways that improve B's prospects. . 38. §17. the difference principle selects (3) because it is the scheme in w h i c h the least-advantaged group (not always the Indians) does best. the rele­ vant groups for applying the difference principle are specified b y their prospects in terms of primary goods.T h i s example is from Derek Parfit. Finally. rigid designators such as Indi­ ans and British are e x c l u d e d . or in the simplest form of the princi­ ple. Objections via Counterexamples 69 which the 45-degree line represents equality and the segment D to B and beyond is the set of efficient points). L o o k i n g at the three alternatives. 1 s t ed. that the representative Briton's advantages under constitution (3) are gained in ways that promote the representative Indian's prospects: it is not correct because the particular individuals least advantaged under (3). p p .

w h o are worst off under the basic structure it selects. Plainly if we use income and wealth classes. each very close (practically speak­ ing) to some others in the aspects along which these structures are varied as available systems of social cooperation. the supposed difficulty cannot arise. T h e inequality in (3) is justified because in that neigh­ borhood the advantages to the British do contribute to the advantages of the Indians. Rather. Accepting the conditions of the exam­ ple. as the dif­ ference principle requires. not only because it overlooks the assumption of a rough continuum of basic structures but because it is hard to see how. Moreover.70 II. consistent with the principles . we cannot say the Indians would d o no better under any alternative ar­ rangement. consider what can be said to the Indians in favor of (3). the example is artificial. we say that. T h e condition of the Indians' being as well off as they are (in that neighborhood) is that the British are better off.4. the reply focuses on (3) in relation to reasonably close and available alternatives in the neighborhood. ( T h o s e close to one another are said to be in the same neighborhood. as does the difference principle itself. W h a t lies behind this way of talking? Ignoring the matter of names for the moment. T h e passage cited (and others simi­ lar to it) should be read as referring to groups specified b y income and wealth. T h i s would be too hasty. PRINCIPLES OF JUSTICE a group already specified in some way. the British in (3). We might be tempted simply to dismiss the example as violating the restrictions on relevant groups. If the Indians ask w h y there are inequalities at all. T h i s reply depends. W h a t the numerical example does bring out is that the difference principle must not say (we already know it does not say (§18)) that the par­ ticular individuals. 19. It is in this neighborhood that reciprocity is thought to hold. in the neighborhood of (3). would not be better off under any other practicable structure.) T h e main question is not (3) against (2) but (3) against (1). we don't have a counterexample. the answer is that in the latter the worst off would be even worse off. 1 9-5- N o t e further that the example has the o d d feature that there is a crossing over of the positions of the two groups: the Indians are best off in (2). A s before. since the passage cited from Theory mentions (and so do many other passages) a kind of reci­ procity between groups appropriately named. If the Indians ask w h y we select the neighborhood of (3) rather than that of (2). on there being a rough continuum of basic structures. there is no alter­ native arrangement that by making the British worse off could make the Indians better off.

the inequality within both groups is the same. it doesn't matter to them that the British are even worse off in (2) than they (the Indians) are in (3). as crossing-over shows. In this way. and similarly for the British. the crossover cases could be actual alter­ natives. in the other the British.ig. mixed or otherwise) better off than the worst off (whoever they may be) under any alternative (practica­ ble) scheme consistent with all the requirements of the two principles of justice. (c) that arbitrary numerical examples can easily be mis­ leading unless we attend carefully to the commonsense institutional back- 39. or any other group. rather. (b) that it presupposes a rough continuum of practica­ ble basic structures. and each has the same average income and wealth. 39 In ideal theory. what would in fact happen is that when the prior principles of the equal liberties and of fair equality of opportunity are both satisfied. T h e example is unrealis­ tic and so the difference principle need not cover it. some of the Indians would be among the better off and some among the worse off. T h e example reminds us: (a) that the principle is meant to hold only w h e n the prior principles of justice are satisfied. Since members of both groups can be effective participants in society. w h y wouldn't there be an intermediate constitution in which the difference principle is satisfied and there is at least an approximate equality between Indians and British? T h a t is. as any principle of political justice must. O f course. there is no justification for any inequality between them as groups. the difference principle expresses.This point is emphasized by Barry in his remarks referred to in note 37. Indians. Objections via Counterexamples 71 of justice prior to the difference principle. British. together with the facts of commonsense political sociology. T h e question is: how to express the concern that is most appropriate to the freedom and equality of democratic citizenship? I have discussed this example to illustrate the care that must be taken in framing counterexamples to the difference principle. T o this the reply is that the difference principle does not appeal to the self-interest of those particular persons or groups identifiable b y their proper names w h o are in fact the least advan­ taged under existing arrangements. however ethnically composed. it is a principle of j u s t i c e . In orte the Indians predominate in the more advantaged group. If this is so. T h u s both groups can take part effectively in political and economic life. a concern for all members of society. the only defense of inequalities in the basic structure is that they make the worst off (whoever they may b e . the Indians might still say that they want to be as well off as they can be. O f course. .

T h e y are entided to these amounts. 1984). T o say justice as fairness rejects such a 40.: Harvard University Press. (d) that the difference principle is a principle of justice and not an appeal to the self-interest of any particular group. and Desert 20. apart from the public rules that specify the scheme of cooperation. See Martin Weitzman. If we apply the principle as a single principle b y itself. for exam­ ple. Within our compre­ hensive view we have a concept of moral desert specified independendy of the rules of existing institutions. that these rules are compatible with the two principles of justice. that these rules include provisions for agreements about wages and salaries. A l l these claims arise within the background system of fair social cooperation. we get nonsense. Given that these principles are satisfied b y the basic structure. they are based on its p u b ­ lic rules and on what individuals and associations d o in the light of those rules. or of an entidement. S u p p o s e . Mass. or of what we are entided to. Apart from existing institutions. of course.1. N o w this statement is easily misunderstood. b y rigid designators).2. 40 T h e n those w h o make and honor these agreements have. Legitimate expectations and entitlements are always (injustice as fairness) based on these rules. whatever it is. Recall from §14 that injustice as fairness distribution takes place in accordance with legitimate claims and earned entitlements. . for example. Here we assume. as in a share econ­ omy. O n c e more I stress that there is no criterion of a legitimate expectation. 76).72 II. b y defini­ tion. W h a t individuals d o depends on what the rules and agreements say they w o u l d be entitled to. Entitlement. §20. a legitimate expectation of receiving the agreed amounts at the agreed times. and given that all legitimate expectations and entitlements are honored. that the basic structure is designed to fulfill. 20. The Share Economy (Cambridge. finally. T h e s e expecta­ tions and entidements are specified b y the public rules of the scheme of so­ cial cooperation. and of course. (e) that relevant social positions must be specified correctly (and not. Legitimate Expectations. PRINCIPLES OF JUSTICE ground. there is no prior and inde­ pendent idea of what we may legitimately expect. the resulting distribution is just. ignoring these points. §14: 74. what individu­ als are entided to depends on what they d o (Theory. or for workers' compensation based on an index of the firm's market performance.

§48: 276. First. that is. In any case. Rather. as w h e n we say that the losing 41. its sev­ eral principles are not intended to apply directly to the relations between members of the family. We might say: O n l y G o d could make those judgments. W h i l e the political conception as a whole does apply to the family as an institution belonging to the basic structure (§50). Second. the idea of deservingness as specified b y a scheme of public rules *s illustrated at Theory. 20. any more than friends are required so to treat one another.2 and §50).20. the thought is that a conception of moral desert as moral worth of character and actions cannot be incorporated into a political conception of justice in view of the fact of reasonable pluralism. the idea of legitimate expectations (and its companion idea of entidements). Each of these cases presumably requires its o w n distinctive criteria. Having conflicting conceptions of the g o o d . Finally. which is the other side of the principle of fairness (Theory. as well as the moral worth of par­ ticular actions. the idea of moral desert in the strict sense. or to personal relationships between individuals. or associations. b y games. citizens cannot agree on a comprehensive doctrine to specify an idea of moral desert for political purposes. §48). moral worth would be ut­ terly impracticable as a criterion when applied to questions of distributive justice. T h e concept of moral desert is not questioned. the political conception of justice does not require parents to treat their children according to the difference principle. §4. . In public life we need to avoid the idea of moral desert and to find a replacement that be­ longs to a reasonable political conception. T h e idea of a legitimate expectation is suggested as precisely such a replacement: it belongs to a political conception of justice and is framed to apply to that domain.3. the moral worth of a person's character as a whole (and of a person's several virtues) as given b y a comprehensive moral doctrine. and T h i r d . Entitlement and Desert 73 concept is incorrect. 41 For example. It recognizes at least three ideas that in ordinary life are viewed as ideas of moral desert. T h i s is not to deny that in general the principles ofjustice restrict the form these ar^ g e m e n t s can take (cf. nor again to relations between members of small groups. H o w far the idea of legitimate expecta­ tions holds must be considered separately in each case. the idea of deservingness as specified b y a scheme of public rules designed to achieve certain purposes.

the remark is not made from within any particular comprehensive philosophical or moral doctrine. we say that both teams deserved to win. T h i s usage also fits the case where. . T h e second w e have already covered in discussing legitimate expectations and entidements.74 II. or to our so­ cial class of origin. as it holds for public rules effectively designed to achieve social purposes. §48: 276. one's success is not assured. Schemes of cooperation satisfying the difference principle are such rules. or other mishaps. O n Viewing Native Endowments as a Common Asset 21. I assume that all reasonable such doctrines would endorse this remark and hold that moral desert al­ ways involves some conscientious effort of will. Yet chance and luck. PRINCIPLES OF JUSTICE team deserved to win. T h e relevant point here is that there are many ways to specify deservingness depending on the public rules in question to­ gether with the ends and purposes they are meant to serve. try conscientiously to act accordingly. this is not always possible. Justice as fairness uses only the second and third ideas of desert. as in games. O n the other hand. what is meant is that the losers exhibited to a higher degree the qualities and skills the game is designed to encourage. Here it is not denied that to the winners go the vic­ tory and the honors. properly understood. the dis­ play of w h i c h makes the game enjoyable both to play and to watch. §17. 42 W h o w o u l d deny it? D o people re­ ally think that they (morally) deserved to be born more gifted than others? 42. since this conception con­ tains no idea of moral desert in the sense meant. after a particularly well played game. §21. there are competitors. But. or something intentionally or willingly done. 20. T h e third is mentioned only at Theory. T h u s w h e n individuals. moved b y the public rules of social arrange­ ments. Yet none of those ways specifies an idea of moral desert. denied the losers what they deserved. they serve to encourage individuals to educate their endow­ ments and to use them for the general good. and even w h e n the competition is fair. and while better a victory than a tie. T h i s statement is meant as a moral truism. it is said that we do not deserve (in the sense of moral desert) our place in the distribution of native endowments. but it is generally implied.4. A l t h o u g h well-designed arrangements may help to avoid large discrepancies between deservingness and success. This remark is not made from within justice as fairness. none of which can apply to our place in the distribution of native endowments. In Theory. it is too bad either had to lose.1. they may become deserving. Rather.

2. W h a t this regarding consists in is expressed b y the dif­ ference principle itself. then. or vice versa? D o they think that they deserved to be born into a wealthier rattier than into a poorer family? N o . not for their place in that distribution. Certainly the difference principle is not to be derived from such a principle as an independent premise. T h e remark about the distribution of endowments as a common asset elucidates its meaning. the question of the ownership of our en­ dowments does not arise. T o the contrary. a deliberate effort of will.3. the differences among persons. but for training and educating their endowments. A s such they provide the basis of legitimate expectations. T h e second and third ideas of desert do not depend on whether we morally deserve our place in the distribution of native endowments. or acts intentionally done. is the distribution of na­ tive endowments. 21. b y agreeing to that principle.1). 21. T h e idea of entitlement presupposes. and for putting them to work so as to contribute to others' good as well as their own. 1st ed. It is not as if so­ ciety owned individuals' endowments taken separately. as do ideas of (moral) desert. it is as if they agree to regard the distribution of endowments as a common asset. A basic structure satisfying the difference principle rewards people. looking at individu­ als one by one. as the idea of le­ gitimate expectations requires.2 1 . T h e s e differences consist not only in the variation of talents of the same kind (variation in . In Theory it is said (§17: 101. that is.) that the difference principle represents an agreement to regard the distribution of native endowments as a common asset and to share in the benefits of this distribution whatever it turns out to be. T h e text of Theory mentioned above is commenting on what is involved in the parties' agreeing to the difference principle: namely. it is persons themselves w h o own their endowments: the psychological and physical integrity of persons is already guaranteed b y the basic rights and liberties that fall under the first principle of justice (§13. W h a t is to be regarded as a c o m m o n asset. Note that what is regarded as a c o m m o n asset is the distribution of native endowments and not our native endowments per se. and should it arise. It is not said that this distribution is a c o m m o n asset: to say that would presuppose a (normative) principle of ownership that is not available in the fundamental ideas from which we begin the exposition. Native Endowments 75 D o they think that they (morally) deserved to be born a man rather than a woman. W h e n people act in this way they are deserving.

a c o m m o n asset. but w h o each have b y a kind of tacit agree­ ment set out to perfect their skills on the one they have chosen so as to real­ ize the powers of all in their joint performances (Theory. Vari­ ations of talent of the same kind (as in degrees of strength and endurance) also allow for mutually beneficial complementarities. For example. and so to the use of the distri­ bution of endowments as. and in formulating such a principle justice as fairness does the work of political philosophy as reconciliation. or point of view. Consider the question: Is it possible for persons as free and equal not to view it a misfortune (though not an injustice) that some are b y nature better endowed than others? Is there any political principle mutually acceptable to citizens as free and equal to guide society in its use of the distribution of native endowments? Is it possible for the more and the less advantaged to be reconciled to a common principle? Should there be no such principle. §79: 4 5 9 ^ ) . we try to show in Part III that the original posi­ tion is a point of view from w h i c h the representatives of citizens as free and equal w o u l d agree to the difference principle. so to speak. PRINCIPLES OF JUSTICE strength and imagination. We use the phrase "common asset" to express a certain attitude. 21. If we can show this. and so on) but in the variety of talents of different kinds. consider a group of musicians every one of w h o m could have trained himself to play equally well as the others any instrument in the orchestra. toward the natural fact of the distribution of endowments. Consider h o w these talents are organized and coordinated in games and in performances of musical compositions. as economists have long known and formulated in the principle of comparative advantage. then that principle offers a way of seeing nature and the social world as no longer hostile to democratic equality.4. Here it is crucial that the difference principle includes an idea of reci­ procity: the better endowed (who have a more fortunate place in the distri­ bution of native endowments they do not morally deserve) are encouraged to acquire still further benefits—they are already benefited b y their fortu­ nate place in that distribution—on condition that they train their native en­ dowments and use them in ways that contribute to the g o o d of the less en­ d o w e d (whose less fortunate place in the distribution they also do not . the structure of social worlds and the general facts of nature would be to this extent hostile to the very idea of democratic equality.76 II. T h i s variety can be regarded as a c o m m o n asset because it makes possible numerous complementarities between talents w h e n organized in appropriate ways to take advantage of these differences. T o resolve the question.

T h e problem. 16-17. . since society is viewed as a fair system of cooperation from one generation to the next between free and equal citizens. suppose could only be done b y a concept of moral desert belong­ ing to a comprehensive view. then. and since the political conception is to apply to the ba­ sic structure which regulates background justice. T o this end justice as fairness introduces a conception of legitimate expectations and its companion conception of entitlements. act as incentives. L o o k i n g back on our discussion. or moral doctrine. Reciprocity is a moral idea situated between impartiality. or else highly effective. Justice as fairness does not reject the concept of moral desert as given b y a fully or partially comprehensive religious. in view of the fact of reasonable pluralism. (c) It should appropriately handle the most serious inequalities from the point of view of political justice: inequalities in citizens' prospects as given by their reasonable expectations over a complete life. For this replacement to be satisfactory. (b) It should express a principle of reciprocity. is to find a replacement—a conception that does the kind of work needed for a political view that we might naturally. pp. on the one side and mutual advantage on the other. as well as b y their place in the distribution of native endowments. 43 §22. it must not only be work­ able. I add a few summary comments.1.2 2 . More­ over. for the purposes of political life. T h e s e inequalities are those likely to arise between different income levels in society as these are affected b y the social position into w h i c h individuals are born and spend the early years of life u p to the age of reason.See Political Liberalism. Rather. it w o u l d not be workable. and the like. We are concerned with the long-lasting 43. philosophical.2. or practicable. though incorrecdy. Summary Comments on Distributive Justice and Desert 22. and answer the needs of a political conception ofjustice. in running an industrial economy in a modern state. Such inequalities (as already noted) cover the costs of training and educa­ tion. Distributive Justice and Desert 77 morally deserve). 22. it holds that no such doctrine can serve as a political conception of distributive justice. but also: (a) It should authorize the social and economic inequalities necessary. which is altruistic.

44 (e) We should look for principles that are reasonably simple and whose basis can be explained in ways citizens may be assumed to understand in the light of ideas available in the public political culture. w h e n desert is understood as entitlement earned under fair conditions.3. once we recognize that the role of commonsense pre­ cepts of justice. so far as possible. O f course. is whether the difference principle (working in tandem with the prior principles of the basic liberties and fair opportunity. In considering the merits of the difference principle. T h i s feature has been emphasized in connection with primary goods in §17. there are two others that deserve notice: (d) Principles specifying fair distribution must. and this is a moral idea (though not the idea of moral desert defined b y a comprehen­ sive doctrine) because the political conception to w h i c h it belongs is itself a moral conception. Justice as fairness holds that the idea of desert as entidement is fully adequate for a political conception of justice. together with the consequences of accident and luck throughout life. PRINCIPLES OF JUSTICE effects of these contingencies. and to do all this in ways consistent with free choice of oc­ cupation and fair equality of opportunity (Theory. to encourage them to accept the burdens of particular responsibilities. be stated in terms that allow us publicly to verify whether they are satisfied. It does not say that we never de­ serve in an appropriate way the social position or the offices we may hold in later life. §47). is not to reward moral desert as distinguished from deservingness. we are only beginning to explore this question (we will say more later) and can never provide a conclusive answer. and understood in the light of the ideas of entitlement and legitimate ex­ pectation) meets these desiderata as well as if not better than other available political principles. then. and that it is worth considering. to cover the costs of acquiring skills and educating abilities. . or the realized skills and educated abilities w e may have after we have reached the age of reason.78 II. T h e i r role is rather to attract people to positions where they are most needed from a social point of view. Justice as fairness holds that it may do so. it views this as a truism. 44. 22. In a well-ordered society we usually do de­ serve these things. keep in mind what we have already said: when justice as fairness says w e do not morally de­ serve either our initial place in society or our place in the distribution of na­ tive endowments. T h e question. and of inequalities in distributive shares in modern socie­ ties. In addition to these desiderata.

W h y should it? It only says that since these conflicting doctrines say that we morally deserve different things in different ways for different rea­ sons. Doesn't it suffice to cooperate on fair terms tha. we know of several conflicting ones.t all of us as free and equal can publicly endorse before one another? Wouldn't this be reasonably close to the practicable. we must look for a workable political conception of justice.4. T h e argument from that position is presented in Part III. they cannot all be correct. O r it may be that we know of at least one family of principles that takes the idea seriously but we are not willing to act from it. the question arises whether our speaking of citizens as free and equal is seriously meant. none of them is politically feasible. is whether we need. or should want. T o carry out this suggestion leads to the original position as a device of representation (§6). of course. and so with principles suited to shape political and social institutions so that they may effectively realize this idea. Distributive The Justice and Desert 79 substantive question. and indeed.2 2 . T h i s people may do from within their comprehensive doctrines. W h a t could these alternatives be? H o w can we select among them? T h e answer that justice as fairness proposes is that the most appropriate principles taking this idea seriously are those that would be selected b y citizens themselves when fairly represented as free and equal. T h e y im­ pose very different requirements and there is endless dispute about them influenced b y which favors us most. they may be correct in doing so. this raises the question of whether there may not be a number of principles that take the idea seriously. 22. political best? Certainly some will insist that they do morally deserve certain things in ways a political conception does not account for. T h e background worry present in asking these questions is that w e may not know of any principles that take seriously the idea of citizens as free and equal. for whatever variety of reasons. or that if we d o . But. T o find a public basis of justification. Recall that we started in §12. understanding this term in Marx's sense? Plainly the integ­ rity of constitutional democratic thought depends on the answers to these questions. Justice as fairness does not deny this. more than this in a political conception. then. and in any case.1 b y asking: what are the principles most appropriate to specify the fair terms of social cooperation between cit­ izens regarded as free and equal? We are concerned with principles that take seriously the idea of citizens as free and equal. Is it simply talk? D o e s it serve other than an ideo­ logical purpose. if the doctrine is sound. Should any of these things be die case. .

§§20-25. it models what we regard—here and now—as acceptable restric­ tions on the reasons on the basis of w h i c h the parties (as citizens' represen­ tatives). and the argument from the original position for the two principles of justice.PART I I I The Argument from the Original Position §23. a n ( ^ 'he s e c " ond fundamental comparison (§§34-40). are to agree to the fair terms of social cooperation (as expressed by principles of justice) whereby the basic structure is to be regulated. 1 Keep in mind throughout that. it models what we regard—here and now—as fair conditions under which the representatives of citizens.1. T h e Original Position: T h e Setup 23. Since we have already discussed the original position as a device of representation. 1. . situated in those fair conditions. as a device of representation. may properly put forward certain principles of justice and reject others. Second. viewed solely as free and equal per­ sons. See Theory. T h i s argument is divided into two fundamen­ tal comparisons: the first fundamental comparison (§§27-33). I focus here on a few de­ tails about h o w it is set u p . Part III considers two main topics in this order: the setup of the original position (§§23-26).4). First. the original position models two things (§6.

1). the . Kant's categori­ cal imperative procedure subjects an agent's rational and sincere maxim (drawn up in the light of the agent's empirical practical reason) to the rea­ sonable constraints contained in that procedure. and doing this belongs to political philosophy and not social theory. In describing the parties we are not describing persons as we find them. a distinction that parallels Kant's distinction between the hypothetical imperative and the categorical imperative. Here again we distinguish (as we did in §2. In each case we have rational persons (or agents) making decisions. subject to certain con­ ditions. it may be possible to prove what they will d o . O n e difference is that our aim is not to describe and ex­ plain how people actually behave in certain situations. Similarly. 23.2. Despite the similarity between familiar arguments in economics and so­ cial theory and the argument from the original position. A s we have said (§12. N o t e first the similarity between the argument from the original position and arguments in economics and social theory. T h e original position also brings out the combined force of our assumptions by uniting them into one surveyable idea that enables us to see their implications more easily. it provides a way to keep track of our assump­ tions. as well as the likely consequences they expect from adopting each alternative. and thus constrains the agent's conduct b y the requirements of pure practical reason.3. O u r aim is to uncover a public basis for a political concep­ tion of justice. In addition. we impose on the parties certain reasonable conditions as seen in the symmetry of their situation with respect to one another and the limits of their knowledge (the veil of ignorance). their desires and inter­ ests. From these persons' knowledge and beliefs. or how institutions actually work. If the main elements at work can be modeled by mathe­ matical assumptions. and the alternatives they face. unless they make a mistake in reasoning or otherwise fail to act sensibly. ceteris paribus. We can" see what we have assumed b y looking at the way the parties and their situation have been described. the parties are described according to h o w we want to model rational representatives of free and equal citizens. Rather. or arriving at agreements.2) between the rational and the reasonable. or agree to.The Original Position 81 Keep in mind also that the original position serves other purposes as well. we can figure out what they will de­ cide. there are funda­ mental differences. 23.23.1 n o w turn to matters of detail. T h e elementary theory of the consumer (the household) contains many examples of the latter.

this is simply a mistake. and would imply that justice as fairness is at bottom Hobbesian (as Hobbes is often interpreted) rather than Kantian. a deductive one. all things considered. and justice as fairness resembles Kant's view in having this feature. but that this theory is itself part of a political conception of justice. W h i l e this conjecture may have an initial plausibility.4. to comprehensive doctrines and to m u c h else. or as possessing these or those native endowments. are reasonable? W e say: those that arise from situating citi­ zens' representatives symmetrically w h e n they are represented solely as free and equal. even if the reasoning we actually give falls short of this standard. 2 T h e terms "reasonable" and "rational" will not be explicitly defined. w o u l d adopt to regulate their basic institutions. We gather their meaning b y how they are used and by attending to the contrast between them. §3: 15 and §9: 47 (1st ed. w h e n subject to reasonable constraints. T h i s priority expresses the priority of right. Consider the proposition in economics that the agent for 2. 3 3. We are concerned at first with reasonable principles of justice for the basic structure. §20: io4f. one that tries to give an ac­ count of reasonable principles of justice. Justice as fairness conjectures that the principles that will seem reasonable for this purpose. where it is said that the theory ofjustice is a part of the theory of rational choice. are the same prin­ ciples that rational representatives of citizens. . or this or that (comprehensive) concep­ tion of the g o o d . We should like the argument from the original position to be. In each case the reasonable has priority over the rational and subordinates it absolutely. and of their reasoning. From what we have just said. There is no thought of deriving those principles from the concept of rationality as the sole normative concept.. See Theory. so far as is possible. Here I correct a remark in Theory. 23. as well as to principles and standards. only its detailed elaboration can show h o w far it is sound.). their decisions and ac­ tions. though. Yet a remark may help: the reasonable is viewed as a basic intuitive moral idea. THE ORIGINAL POSITION reasonable conditions imposed on the parties in the original position con­ strain them in reaching a rational agreement on principles of justice as they try to advance the g o o d of those they represent.82 III. uses the theory of rational choice (decision). What should have been said is that the ac­ count of the parties. W h a t con­ straints. it may b e applied to persons. T h e s e are principles it would be reasonable for free and equal citizens to accept as specifying the fair terms of their so­ cial cooperation. T h e point in aiming for this is that we d o not want the parties' accepting the two principles to depend on psychological hy­ potheses or social conditions not already included in the description of the original position. and not as belonging to this or that social class.

as it were. as it were. A s such. together with several other al­ ternatives we want to examine. Included on the list are the more important conceptions of political justice found in our tradition of political philosophy. w e simply hand the parties a list of principles. T h i s proposition follows deductively from the premises of demand theory. T h e principles of justice agreed to are not. the best conception. deduced from the con­ ditions of the original position: they are selected from a given list. to find a conception of political justice that can specify an appropriate moral basis of democratic institutions and can hold its own against the k n o w n existing alternatives. however.4). Rather. we do not try to say what principles they would think of as possible alternatives. If it is objected that certain principles are not on the list. suffice for our first and minimum objective: namely. then. T h e argument contin­ ues from there. libertarians must object to the setup of the original position itself as a device of representation. With respect to the alternatives available to the parties. a menu.23. T h e necessary psychology is already included in those premises.The Original Position 83 the household buys the commodity-bundle indicated b y the (unique) point in commodity-space at which the budget line is tangent to the (highest) in­ difference curve touching that line. For exam­ ple. and Utopia. those principles must be added to it. Jus­ tice as fairness then argues that the two principles of justice w o u l d still be agreed to.See Nozick's formulation of them in Anarchy. State. say libertarian principles of j u s t i c e . as this g o o d is specified by the ac­ count of primary goods (§25. the parties are artificial persons. p. 4 4. T o argue from a given list cannot. our tradition of political philosophy. or that it represents them in the w r o n g way. 151. T o d o so would be a complicated business and a distraction from our practical aim. they must say that it fails to represent considerations they regard as es­ sential. of course. . T h e orig­ inal position is a selection device: it operates on a familiar family of con­ ceptions of justice found in. T h e parties must agree on one alternative on this menu. establish what is the most appropriate conception of justice among all possible alternatives. Ideally we want the same to be true of the argu­ ment from the original position: we include the necessary p s y c h o l o g y in the description of the parties as rational representatives w h o are moved to se­ cure the g o o d of those they represent. merely inhabitants of our device of representation: they are characters w h o have a part in the play of our thought-experiment. or shaped from. It may. Should this argument succeed.

T h i s is the fact of reasonable pluralism (§11). that any single reasonable comprehensive doc­ trine. in agreeing to principles of justice. or no best concep­ tion of the good. T h e parties. with its conception of the g o o d . political power. as representatives o f free and equal citizens. comprehensive doc­ trines in the light of which they understand their conceptions of the good. Since reasonable pluralism is viewed as a permanent condition of a democratic culture. and view it as characterizing what we may call the subjective circumstances of justice.84 III. It does not follow (and justice as fairness as a political conception of justice does not say. T h i s does not .2. 24. and must not say) that there is no true comprehensive doctrine. O n l y in this way can we fulfill the liberal principle of legitimacy (§12. T h i s seems evident not only from the his­ tory of democratic states but also from the development of thought and cul­ ture in the context of free institutions. act as trustees or guardians. It only says that we cannot expect to reach a workable po­ litical agreement as to what it is. Social unity is based on citizens' accepting a political conception of justice and uses ideas of the good fitting within it. T h e Circumstances of Justice 24. Also especially important are the circumstances that reflect the fact that in a modern democratic society citizens affirm different. is to be exercised in ways that all citizens as reasonable and rational might en­ dorse in the light of their c o m m o n human reason. T h e s e include what w e may call the objective circumstances of moderate scarcity and the necessity of social cooperation for all to have a decent standard of life. is superior. though reasonable. O n e role of political philosophy is to help us reach agreement on a polit­ ical conception of justice.1. It is not based on a complete conception of the good rooted in a comprehensive doctrine. but it cannot show. W e take this pluralism to be a permanent feature of a democratic society. clearly enough to gain general and free political agreement.3): when constitutional essen­ tials are involved. T h u s . the fact o f oppression (§11). they must secure the fundamental interests of those they represent. T h e r e is no politically practi­ cable way to eliminate this diversity except b y the oppressive use of state power to establish a particular comprehensive doctrine and to silence dis­ sent. We are to think of the circumstances of justice as reflecting the his­ torical conditions under which modern democratic societies exist. as the power of free and equal citizens. THE ORIGINAL POSITION §24. we look for a conception of political justice that takes that plurality as given. and indeed in­ commensurable and irreconcilable.

D e e p religious and moral conflicts characterize the subjective circumstances of justice. O n c e again recall (§6) that the original position is a device of repre­ sentation: it models. m u c h less selfish. Formal Constraints and the Veil of Ignorance 25. or even selfish. often more so than social and economic ones. depends on the content of their final ends. in their own wealth and position. and second.1. the parties take no direct inter­ est in the interests of persons represented by other parties. what we regard (here and now) as fair conditions for the terms of social cooperation to be agreed to (reflected in the symme­ try of the parties' situation). N o r does it mean this w h e n applied to citizens in society for w h o m the parties are responsible. see themselves as defending their basic rights and liberties which secure their legitimate and fundamental interests. T h a t the parties take no direct interest in the interests of those repre­ sented by the other parties reflects an essential aspect of h o w citizens are quite properly moved w h e n questions of political justice arise about the ba­ sic structure. in their own power and prestige. without an appreciation of the depth of the conflict between comprehensive doctrines as they enter the political domain. on whether these are interests in themselves. Moreover. but rather. Similarly. True. it models what w e regard (here and now) as reasonable restrictions on reasons that may be used in arguing for principles of justice to regulate the basic structure.Formal Constraints 85 mean that the parties are self-interested. Certainly we expect and indeed want people to care about their liberties and opportunities so that they can achieve their good. the case for formulating a reasonable political conception of justice with its idea of p u b ­ lic reason (§26) is less likely to seem convincing. But this is getting ahead. first.25. T h o s e engaged in these conflicts are surely not in general self-interested. §25. as these words are normally used. Various formal con­ straints of the concept of right are modeled in the original position b y re­ quiring the parties to evaluate principles of justice from a suitably general . We think they would show a lack of self-respect and weakness of character in not doing so. or self-interested. But whether people are self-interested. In acting responsibly as trustees to secure persons' fundamental interests in their freedom and equality—in the conditions adequate for the development and exercise of their moral powers and the effective pursuit of their conception of the good on fair terms with others—the parties are not viewing those they represent as selfish. these conflicts can be the most intractable and deeply divisive.

In the case of political conceptions for the basic structure the publicity condition seems appropriate.." but at various places it makes the points in this paragraph. Theory doesn't use the phrase "a device of representation.86 III. make that impossible. i8f.. and if so w h e n ? We can enter it at any time. so to speak. It is essential that the parties as rational representatives be led to the same j u d g m e n t as to which principles to adopt. H o w e v e r rational it might b e for the parties to favor princi­ ples framed to promote the determinate and known interests of those they represent. Many questions about the original position answer themselves if we remember this and see it is a device of representation modeling reasonable constraints that limit the reasons that the parties as rational representatives may appeal to. I use the idea of the original position as a natural and vivid way to convey the kind of the reasoning the parties may engage in. that first principles of political justice b e public. Is it a gathering of all actual or possible persons? Plainly not. not to moral conceptions generally. T h e y are universal w h e n they can b e applied without inconsistency or self-defeat­ ing incoherence to all moral agents.. T h e s e consequences are impor­ tant in the argument from the original position. T h i s allows that a unani­ mous agreement can be reached. and this is much less common. T h e veil of ignorance achieves this result 5. §20:104f. should they have the opportunity. 25. j o i n e d with the limits on information (modeled b y the veil of ignorance). the constraints of right. It means that in evaluating principles the parties in the original position are to take into account the consequences. §24: noX. social and psychological. §78: 453! §87: 514- . whether it ap­ plies to the latter is a separate question. H o w ? Simply b y reasoning in accordance with the modeled constraints. as we see in due course. See Theory. §4: i6f. Principles are general w h e n it is possible to state them without the use of proper names or rigged definite descriptions. Justice as fairness also requires. citing only reasons those constraints allow. 5 It is a commonplace of moral philosophy to require first principles to be general and universal. THE ORIGINAL POSITION point of view. to all citizens in the society in question.2. of public recogni­ tion by citizens that these principles are mutually acknowledged and that they effectively regulate the basic structure. T h i s condition is applied to political conceptions. A l t h o u g h the argument from the original position could be pre­ sented formally. C a n we enter it. Is that position a general assembly w h i c h includes at one moment every­ one w h o lives at some time? N o . in our case.

more rather than less of those ends can be fulfilled.] . Citizens are repre­ sented solely as free and equal persons: as those w h o have to the minimum sufficient degree the two moral powers and other capacities enabling them to be normal cooperating members of society over a complete fife. Formal Constraints 87 by limiting the parties to the same b o d y o f general facts (the presendy ac­ cepted facts of social theory (§26)) and to the same information about the general circumstances of society: that it exists under the circumstances of justice. to describe the parties (as artificial persons in our device of repre­ sentation) as best suits our aims in developing a political conception of j u s ­ tice. Remember it is up to us. B y situ­ ating the parties symmetrically. the veil of igno­ rance removes differences in bargaining advantages. the original position respects the basic pre­ cept of formal equality. the choice of principles should not be influenced b y this trait. ceteris paribus. 7.25.We suppose that the parties are rational. 25-3. See Theory. and that reasonably favorable condi­ tions making a constitutional democracy possible obtain (§13. to select the alternative most likely to advance those ends. the original position is fair. T h e r e is. 7 6. and a strong will to dominate and exercise power over others. A l o n g with other conditions on the original position. they deliberate guided b y such principles as: to adopt the most effective means to one's ends.5). T h u s the parties are rational in that they can rank their final ends consistently. 6 T h e s e include a liability to envy and spite. T h e parties (in contrast to persons in society) are not moved by such desires and inclina­ tions. if possible. where rationality (as dis­ tinguished from reasonableness) is understood in the way familiar from economics. or Sidgwick's principle of equity: those similar in all relevant respects are to be treated similarly. it seems desirable that. With this precept satisfied.[See Theory. §25: I23ff. be it noted. So we stipulate that the parties are not influenced by these psycholo­ gies as they try to secure the good of those they represent. one important modification in this idea of rational­ ity in regard to certain special psychologies. w h o are setting u p justice as fairness. to schedule activities so that. for instance. at least w h e n it becomes intense. is generally regarded as something to be avoided and feared. §80: 465. both objective and subjective. Since envy. so that in this and other respects the parties are symmetrically situated. y o u and me. a peculiarly high aversion to risk and uncertainty.

§ 8 o : 465. Theory. are things persons need as citizens. 9. §35:124. T o solve this problem is one reason we introduced the idea of primary goods and enumerated a list of items falling under this heading (§17. Since the veil of ignorance prevents the parties from knowing the (comprehensive) doctrines and conceptions of the good of the persons they represent. or a will to dominate and the like. If so. and to pursue their determinate conceptions of the good. THE ORIGINAL POSITION 25. §81. Finally. helps to specify these needs and requirements. In that part the question will b e whether a basic structure so regulated actually generates in citizens a high degree of excus­ able envy and spite. We split this argument into two parts.) In the second part of the argument. See Theory. . A b o v e we said the parties them­ selves are not swayed by the special psychologies: in the first part we say they think the same of the persons they represent. they must have some other grounds for deciding which princi­ ples to select in the original position.4. adequately to develop and fully exercise their two moral powers. a basic point about the argument from the original position. or a special aversion to uncertainty.2). T h e i r reasoning aims at selecting the principles of justice that best secure those persons' good. citizens' sense of justice is likely to be weak. § 6 7 : 4 4 1 . these goods are identified b y asking which things are generally nec­ essary as social conditions and all-purpose means to enable citizens. justice as fairness cannot be carried through. and the like. or too frequently overridden by attitudes rooted in the special psychologies. rather than as human beings apart from any normative conception. Primary g o o d s . ignoring any inclinations that might arise from envy. we said. re­ garded as free and equal.88 III. and not a comprehensive moral doctrine. Just institutions are too often violated 9 8 8. A s we saw.5. the par­ ties consider the psychology of citizens in the well-ordered society of jus­ tice as fairness: that is. Here the political con­ ception. w h i c h w e take u p in Part V. 25. (Aversion to uncertainty is discussed in §31. Here we face a serious problem: un­ less we can set u p the original position so that the parties can agree on prin­ ciples of justice moved by appropriate grounds. their fundamental interests. the psychology of people w h o grow up and live in a society in w h i c h the two principles of justice (the principles the parties have selected) effectively regulate the basic structure and in which this fact is publicly recognized.

an agreement on the principles of political justice for the basic structure (for example. . and which laws and policies best fulfill them in existing social condi­ tions. there must be a companion agreement on the guidelines for public inquiry and on the criteria as to what kind of information and knowledge is relevant in discussing political questions. the argument is c o m p l e t e . or with stability as a balance of political forces. then. and to sup­ port a public basis of justification. It is up to us to say what the parties are to know in view of our aims in working out a political conception of justice that can be. has two parts: (1) First. T h i s idea of stability is taken up in Part V. we hope. we allow the parties the general beliefs and forms of reasoning 10. w h e n and how far they are satisfied. The Idea of Public Reason 89 and the favored principles of justice fail to generate their own support. the focus of a reasonable overlapping consensus and hence a public basis of justification. at least when these involve the constitutional essentials and questions of basic justice (§13. an agreement on the principles of reasoning and the rules of evidence in the light of w h i c h citizens are to decide whether the principles of justice apply.26. Meanwhile do °ot mistake this sense of stability with the stability of a modus vivendi. basic institutions and public policies should be justifiable to all citizens (as the liberal principle of legitimacy re­ quires). T h e associated well-ordered society is unstable. on balance. and granted that. Faced with the fact of reasonable pluralism. In presenting the argument for the two principles we have to refer to the parties' general knowledge of social theory and human psychology.2. on matters of constitutional essentials. If the principles already selected turn out to be (sufficiently) stable.6). 26.1. T h e Idea of Public Reason 26. those of justice as fairness). 10 §26. For an agreement on the principles of justice to be effective. and (2) Second. But how is this knowledge specified? It must be setded b y you and me as we set up justice as fairness. T h e original agreement. Note here that (sufficient) stability is imposed as a condition on a reasonable concep­ tion of political justice: such a conception must be able to generate its own sufficiently Wrong supporting sense of justice. T h u s the parties must recon­ sider the principles agreed to and examine whether. other prin­ ciples should be adopted.

We may call this the "wide view" of public reason. if these are in dispute. THE ORIGINAL POSITION found in c o m m o n sense.90 III. that reasonable comprehensive doctrines cannot be introduced and discussed in public reason. at least when constitutional essentials and ques- 11. as illustrated by slavery in the antebellum South and the civil rights move­ ment in the 1960s and later. It has the advantage of citizens informing one another where they come from. §8. A l l this may have desirable conse­ quences and may strengthen the forces working for stability. then. Nevertheless. as distinct from the narrower view of it called the "inclusive view" found in Political Liberalism. T h i s excludes comprehensive religious and philo­ sophical doctrines (the whole truth. that is. V I . lect. so to speak. So we say the parties have that kind of general knowledge and they use those ways of reasoning. political power should be exercised. T h e same holds for elaborate economic theories of general equilibrium and the like. 12 People are in gen­ eral free to d o this. T h u s we suppose the parties accept the four general facts of political sociology in §»l-312. T h e difference is that the inclusive view allowed comprehensive doctrines to be introduced only in nonideal circumstances. But if each citizen has an equal share in political power. though we can introduce our comprehensive doc­ trine. and the methods and conclusions of science. T h e idea of public reason is further developed in " T h e Idea of Public Reason Revisited. If we are to speak of public reason. or the political values covered b y the political conception of justice (or one of a suitable family o f such). the knowledge and ways of reasoning—the plain truths now com­ mon and available to citizens generally—that ground the parties' selection of the principles of justice must be accessible to citizens' c o m m o n reason. 11 Otherwise. T h e principle of legitimacy makes this the most ap­ propriate and perhaps the only way to specify the companion agreement. the duty of civility requires us in due course to make our case for the legislation and public policies we support in terms of public reasons. when not controversial. and on what basis they support the public political conception of justice. however. O n e ground for introducing the idea of public reason is this: while polit­ ical power is always coercive—backed b y the government's monopoly of le­ gal force—in a democratic regime it is also the power of the public. T h i s does not mean. the power of free and equal citizens as a corporate body. as it were) from being specified as pub­ lic reasons. so far as possible. the political conception does not provide a basis of political le­ gitimacy." ( . It is also less restrictive and gives citizens a deeper understanding of their several points of view.

legislation protecting the environment and controlling pollution. social equality and reci­ procity (expressed by the difference principle). If we define a justification as publicly based when it is based solely on political values covered by the political conception ofjustice. Citizens must be able. between these two cases. to present to one another publicly accept­ able reasons for their political views in cases raising fundamental political questions.26. the second neither attainable nor desirable. The Idea of Public Reason 91 tions of basic justice are at stake. we must justify our use of our corporate and coercive political power. Here we are concerned solely with the way the idea of public reason holds for questions about the constitutional essentials and questions of ba­ sic justice. for example. . laws establishing national parks and voting funds for museums and the arts. (b) T h e second kind of political values—the values of public reason—fall under the guidelines for public inquiry and for the steps to be taken to en­ sure that inquiry is free and public as well as informed and reasonable.1). T h e y include the values of equal p o ­ litical and civil liberty. T h e political values expressed b y justice as fairness as a political conception are of two kinds. or if they d o . fair equality of opportunity. then. T h i s means that our reasons should fall under the political val­ ues expressed by a political conception of justice. M o s t legislative questions do not concern these matters. each paired with one of the two parts of the original agreement as stated above (§26. A satisfactory account of public reason would show h o w these questions differ from fundamental questions. then we strive for publicly based justifications for questions regarding the constitutional essentials and basic questions of distributive jus­ tice but not in general for all the questions to be setded by the legislature within a constitu­ tional framework. If free and equal persons are to cooperate politically on a basis of mutual respect. M . For the importance of •his distinction I am indebted to T. in the light of public reason. al­ though they often touch u p o n them. We should distinguish. tax legislation and laws regulating property. and w h y the restrictions im­ posed b y public reason do not apply to them. the first attainable (we hope) and desirable. T h e y include not only the appropriate use of the fundamental concepts of 13. in ways that all citizens can publicly en­ dorse in the light of their own reason. at least not in the same way or so stringently. T h i s is the principle of political legit­ imacy that justice as fairness is to satisfy. 13 26. Scanlon and Peter de MarnefFe. (a) T h e first kind—the values of political justice—fall under the princi­ ples of justice for the basic structure. where those essential matters are at stake. then.3. and so on.

shared guidelines for inquiry and methods of reasoning make that reason public. T h e s e as­ sociations have diverse aims and purposes. or political— must accept certain c o m m o n elements: principles of inference and rules of evidence. T h e nonpublic reasons of churches and universities. but nonpublic with respect to political society. and so nonpublic with respect to citizens generally. A s we have said. not simply with discourse. corporate bodies as well as individuals need some recognized way of reasoning about what is to be done. All ways of reasoning—whether individual. while freedom of speech and thought in a constitutional regime make that reason free. and include standards of correctness and criteria of truth. nonpublic reason is the reason appropriate to individuals and associations within society: it guides h o w they quite properly deliberate in making their personal and associational decisions. THE ORIGINAL POSITION j u d g m e n t .4. associational. they quite rightly view themselves in their own way. universities and churches. public reason is the form of reasoning appropriate to equal citi­ zens w h o as a corporate b o d y impose rules on one another backed b y sanc­ tions of state power. to reason within the limits set b y the principle of legitimacy. Let us elaborate this last point and consider the distinction be­ tween public reason and nonpublic reason. Otherwise they would not be ways of reasoning but something else: mere rhetoric or artifices of persuasion. In sum. and evidence. when constitutional essentials and questions of basic justice are in­ volved. 26. in­ ference. T h i s holds for government and its citi­ zens as a corporate b o d y and also for associations such as firms and labor unions. but also the virtues of reasonableness and fair-mindedness as shown in the adherence to the criteria and proce­ dures of commonsense knowledge and to the methods and conclusions of science when not controversial. and within the limits of political justice. T h e capacity to learn and to apply those concepts and principles is part of our c o m m o n human reason. one aspect o f w h i c h directs us. and evidence. they must incorporate the fundamental concepts of j u d g m e n t . T h i s ideal gives rise to a duty of public civility (§33). . of scientific associations and private clubs differ. T h e s e values reflect an ideal of citizenship: our willingness to settle the fundamental political matters in ways that oth­ ers as free and equal can acknowledge are reasonable and rational. inference. B y contrast. T o act reasonably and responsi­ bly.92 III. W e say the recognized ways of reasoning of associations are public with respect to their members. We are concerned with reason.

as free and equal citizens. T o illustrate: the rules for weighing evidence in a court of law—the rules relating to hearsay evidence and requiring that the defendant be guilty b e y o n d a reasonable doubt—are suited to the special role of courts. apart from all prior loyal­ ties and commitments. since apostasy and heresy are not legal offenses. Consider the differences between a church council discussing a point of theological doctrine. moreover. The Idea of Public Reason 93 Nevertheless. for example. we impose any such doctrine on ourselves. is freely accepted. those w h o are no longer able to recognize a church's authority may cease being members without running afoul of state power. politically speaking. I mean that. B y this I do not claim that we do this by an act of free choice. the power of the gov­ ernment cannot be evaded except b y leaving the state's territory. philosophical. our aims. whether we affirm these views is regarded as within our p o ­ litical competence as specified b y the basic constitutional rights and liber­ ties (§7--4-5)- 26. the society and culture whose history. customs. a university fac­ ulty debating educational policy. In the case of ecclesiastical authority. and a meeting of a scientific association trying to assess the harm to the public from a nuclear accident. and given the different conditions under which their reasoning is carried out as well as the different constraints to which their reasoning is properly subject. Whatever compre­ hensive religious. and values. and con- . for given liberty of conscience and freedom of thought. nonpublic authority as seen. in the authority of churches over their members. B y contrast with associations within society. Yet nor­ mally. T h e criteria and methods of the public reason of these associations depend in part on how the nature (the aim and point) of each association is understood and the conditions under which it pursues its ends. attachments and affections. 4°als. different authorities are recognized as relevant or binding b y different corporate bodies. as it were. the society and culture whose language we use to speech and thought to express and understand ourselves.5. T h e s e rules are different from the rules of evidence used b y a scien­ tific society. In a democratic society.26. leaving is a grave step: it involves leaving the society and culture in * h i c h we have been raised. different procedures and methods are appropriate in view of the different conceptions of themselves held by individuals and corpo­ rate bodies. T h a t Power's being guided by public reason in the form appropriate to the all-in­ clusive citizen b o d y of a democratic society does not change this. or moral views we hold are also freely ac­ cepted.

pp.94 III. §27. be freely accepted in the sense that the bonds of society and culture. indeed this is essential: were it not the case social life would lose its point. and standards that specify our basic rights and liberties and effectively guide and moderate the political power to w h i c h we are subject. First Fundamental Comparison 27. T h e preceding survey (§§23-26) completes a brief account of the setup of the original position. in the way that liberty of conscience suffices to make accepting ecclesiastical authority free. of Economics 88 (November 1974)7 ." Quarterly Journal §§III-VI. Q u i t e the contrary. politically s p e a k i n g . 15 Never­ theless we may over the course of fife come freely to accept. of history and social place of origin. The state's authority cannot. T h e analogue of this may hold for associ­ ations but not for political society itself. I have in mind. then. T h i s reasoning is organized as two fundamental comparisons. T h i s is the outer limit of our freedom. the ideals. 16 D o i n g this enables us to separate the reasons that lead the parties to select the difference principle from the reasons that lead them to select the principle of the basic equal lib­ erties. principles. We now start on the second topic of this part. for example. 16. the reasoning of the parties for the two principles of justice. politically speaking. Here is another place where the difference between political society and the associations within it is clear.1. This way of organizing the reasoning for the two principles was first sketched in "Re­ ply to Alexander and Musgrave. Associations within society can be communities united on shared final ends. even though m u c h of it we may question and even reject. begin so early to shape our life and are normally so strong that the right of emi­ gration (suitably qualified) 14 does not suffice to make accepting its authority free. as the outcome of reflective thought and reasoned j u d g m e n t . that those prop­ erly convicted of certain sufficiently serious crimes may not be allowed to emigrate pending serving their sentence. 639-653. 15-1 mean simply that it is no defense of the principles of political justice to say to those protesting them: You can always leave the country. it insists on the distinction between a political society and an association. Despite the formal resemblance between the difference principle as a 14. I shall not discuss these qualifications. T h e y show that political liberalism does not view political society as an association. T h e s e contrasts between public and nonpublic reason (the reason of as­ sociations) are significant. reprinted in Collected Papers. THE ORIGINAL POSITION ventions we depend on to find our place in our social world. having an intimate and inexpressible knowledge of it. In large part we affirm this society and culture.

the reasoning for the difference prinfciple does not rely on this rule. 17 T o proceed: we assume that the parties reason b y comparing alternatives two at a time. the argument is complete and those principles are adopted. the other is the idea of society as a social system organized so as to produce the most g o o d summed over all its members. . it may be clear that the balance of reasons favors one alternative over the other. which gives the reasoning for the first principle. Plainly an argument for the two princi­ ples depends on judgment—on j u d g i n g the balance of reasons—and is also relative to a given list.27. T h e y begin with the two principles of justice and compare those principles with the other available alternatives on the list. T h e first comparison. §87: 509.2. list. I think. T h e two comparisons arise as follows. with the principle of average utility. Nevertheless. is. the second comparison. which gives the rea­ soning for the difference principle. In any comparison there may b e reasons. See Theory. is less conclusive.1). 18 T o claim that would be 27. quite conclusive. T h e formal resemblance is misleading. If the two principles are supported by a stronger balance of reasons in each such comparison. excessive and I attempt no general argument. 17. despite the limited scope o f this two-part argument. In the history of democratic thought two contrasting ideas of society have a prominent place: one is the idea of society as a fair system of social cooperation between citizens re­ garded as free and equal. T h e two comparisons we will discuss are. where this good is a complete good specified b y a comprehensive doctrine. but a small part of the ar­ gument that w o u l d be required to provide a reasonably conclusive argu­ ment for the two principles of justice. 18. T h i s is because the two principles are compared. it is instructive in suggesting h o w we can proceed in other comparisons to bring out the merits of the two principles.T h e failure to explain this was a serious fault in Theory.First Fundamental Comparison 95 principle of distributive justice and the maximin rule as a rule of thumb for decisions under uncertainty (stated below in §28. then. Still. for and against each of the two alternatives. possibly strong ones. It turns on a more delicate balance of less decisive considerations. each time in a different way. We d o not claim that the two principles w o u l d be agreed to from a complete. or any possible. and the comparison shows at best their superiority over that princi­ ple.

3.96 The III. presenting the case for the two principles b y way of these two comparisons separates the reasons that particularly favor the equal basic liberties from the reasons that particularly favor the difference principle. T h e first comparison. T h e two comparisons turn on this contrast: the first brings out the advantage of the two principles with respect to equality. and the parties must take that into account. In all other respects the two principles of justice are unchanged. T h e principle of average utility says that the institutions of the basic structure are to b e arranged so as to maximize the average welfare of the members of society. Given this separation. the principles prior to the difference principle are already accepted and the parties are se­ lecting a principle for regulating economic and social inequalities (differ­ ences in citizens' prospects over a complete life) for a society in which those prior principles are assumed to be effective in regulating the basic structure. In util­ itarianism. but those guidelines lend little support to the difference principle. 27. . the utilitarian tradition is a special case of the second. or mutuality. the ideas of equality and of reciprocity are accounted for only indirecdy. w h i c h uses the guidelines of the maximin rule for decisions under uncertainty. as what is thought to be normally necessary to maximize the sum of social welfare. again taken as a unit. taken as a unit. In fact. are compared with the principle of average utility as the sole principle of justice. and fair opportunities) and of reciprocity (of w h i c h the difference principle is an ex­ ample). the second their advantage with respect to reciprocity. As I'said above. liberties. then. are compared with an alternative formed by substitut­ ing for the difference principle the principle of average utility (combined with a stipulated social minimum). In the first comparison the two principles of justice. Between these two traditions there is a basic contrast: the idea of society as a fair system of social cooperation is quite naturally specified so as to in­ clude the ideas of equality (the equality of basic rights. THE ORIGINAL POSITION tradition of the social contract elaborates the first idea. B y contrast. In the second comparison. w h e n we formulate the second comparison they are not used at all. is quite decisive in supporting the equal basic rights and liberties. the situation is not as one might have thought. T h e second fundamental comparison is that in which the two principles. the idea of society organized to produce the most good expresses a maximizing and aggregative principle of political justice. beginning now and extending into the foreseeable fu­ ture. T h i s means that people already view themselves as free and equal citizens of a democratic society.

Reidel Pub. T h e first comparison with the principle of average utility is important for another reason: it illustrates h o w arguments from the original position pro­ ceed. perfectionism. and N o z i c k (see §6: n. as Harsanyi argues. T h e argument can be described as follows: (i) If there are certain conditions in w h i c h it is rational to be guided b y the maximin rule when agreeing to principles of justice for the basic struc­ ture. C o . in his review es"Can the Maximin Principle Serve as a Basis for Morality?" American Political Science Ikvtew 69 (1975): 594-606. but should they lose. T h e Structure of the Argument and the Maximin Rule 28. the maximin rule is a useful heuristic rule of thumb for the parties to ^•e to organize their deliberations. 3gf. indeed unique. .4. Gauthier. Harsanyi. T h e first comparison is the more fundamental because the aim of justice as fairness is to work out an alternative conception of political justice to those found*"in utilitarianism. Social Behavior. O n this point there was. as some seem to have thought. given the highly special. Surveying them prepares us for the second comparison. A s the account of this and later sections shows. W h a t this means will become clearer by looking at the argument from the original position in the first c o m p a r i s o n . pp. of Buchanan. a statement of the maximin rule: it tells us to identify the worst outcome of each available alternative and then to adopt the alternative whose worst outcome is better than the worst outcomes of all the other al­ ternatives. w h i c h turns on a less decisive balance of reasons. no disagree"tent. 1976). Such a proposal would be •"nply irrational. this aim is already in good part achieved. and Sfientific Explanation (Dordrecht: D . conditions of ^ * original position. Theory. 19. §28.28. the first two being explicitly contractarian. and it provides a fairly simple case which displays the nature of those arguments. then under those conditions the two principles of justice would be agreed to rather than the principle of average utility.1. C . and reprinted in his Essays on Ethics. Should the two principles win in the first comparison. For example. see J. §26: 132-135. T h e only question is whether. T h e first comparison is also essential in replying to recent libertarian views. T o follow this rule in selecting principles of justice for the basic structure we focus on the worst social positions that would be allowed when that structure is effectively regulated b y those principles under vari­ ous circumstances. the maximin role was never proposed as the general principle of rational decision in all cases of risk and uncertainty. 19 . The Maximin Rule 97 27. and intuitionism (the first has been particularly dominant in our political tradition). 16). as we may call them. all is lost. while at the same time finding a more appropriate moral basis for the institutions of a modern democratic society. and is. First.

W h e n those outcomes are far below that level and altogether intolerable. w h e n they obtain. the third condition fully obtains. Probability and Profit (Homewood. T h r e e comments about these conditions: First. 28. it must be rational for the parties as trustees not to be m u c h concerned for what might be gained above what can be guaranteed (for those they represent) by adopting the al­ ternative whose worst outcome is better than the worst outcomes of all the other alternatives. 1965). when the guaranteeable level is itself quite satisfactory. . three in particular. the third condition is that the worst outcomes of all the other alternatives are significandy below the guaranteeable level. be avoided. THE ORIGINAL POSITION (ii) T h e r e are certain conditions. if possible. Let us review the three conditions referred to in (ii) a b o v e . such that. It fully obtains w h e n this level is completely satis­ factory. the first condition is that the parties have no reli­ able basis for estimating the probabilities of the possible social circum­ stances that affect the fundamental interests of the persons they represent. then.2. that is. and must." T h e second condition obtains. of h o w likely it is that the circumstances obtain for their respective worst outcomes to be realized. 20 (a) Since the maximin rule takes no account of probabilities. Let's call this best worst outcome the "guaranteeable level. for the time being let's assume that (i) is acceptable. Here we follow William Fellner. It is (iii) that calls for the most explana­ tion. (b) Since the maximin rule directs the parties to evaluate the alterna­ tives only b y their worst possible outcomes. (c) Since the maximin rule directs the parties to avoid alternatives whose worst outcomes are below the guaranteeable level. being guided by the maximin rule in these conditions is compatible with the familiar principle 20.: R. (iii) T h e s e three conditions obtain in the original position. 111. but (ii) also requires comment. While each of the premises (i)-(iii) might be disputed. D . so let's start with (ii). Irwin. it is rational to be guided by the maximin rule w h e n agreeing to principles of justice for the basic structure. pp. (iv) Therefore. the two principles w o u l d be agreed to b y the parties rather than the principle of average utility.98 III. 140-142. 28.3. T h i s condition fully obtains when the concept of probability does not even apply.

W h a t is this level? It is the situation of the least-advantaged members of the well-ordered society that results from the full realization of the two principles of justice (given reasonably favorable conditions). so long as the first condition at least partially ob­ tains. they use the rule to guide them in deciding in accordance with that principle in the highly unusual. it does not mean expected pleasure. if not unique. T h a t is. however. It is simply a useful heuristic device. E x p e c t e d utility is a purely formal idea specified b y a rule or a mathematical function. Let us now review w h y the second and third conditions obtain to a high degree for the parties given their situation in the original position. this caveat: the argument guided by the rale fits with the idea that rational agents maximize their expected utility. if ever. or sat­ isfaction. in which the alternatives are j u d g e d better and worse in meeting the agent's fundamental interests. the rule or function simply represents the order. Note. For should the third condition fully obtain. Justice as fairness claims that a well-ordered society paired with the two principles . Part of the point of the original position is that it forces us to ask that question and moreover to do so in a highly special situation which gives it a definite sense. what is crucial is that the second and third con­ ditions should obtain to a high degree. or agreeable consciousness (Sidgwick).4. of the three con­ ditions fully obtain for the maximin rule to be a sensible way to organize deliberation. Rather. but only if that ex­ pected utility is understood to have no substantive content. However. this suffices to bring the maximin rule into play. T h i s is not a question that we w o u l d often. or any. ask ourselves in or­ dinary life. The Maximin Rule 99 of maximizing the fulfillment of one's interests. circumstances of the original position when the matter at hand is of such fundamental significance. which are in this case the inter­ ests of citizens as free and equal (§31). or ranking. A second point is that it is not necessary that all. A s such. provided that the guaranteeable level is reasonably satisfactory. T h e par­ ties' use of the rule to organize their deliberations in no way violates this familiar principle of rationality. 28. in the first comparison the first condition has a relatively minor role. Focusing on the worst outcomes has the advantage of forcing us to consider what our funda­ mental interests really are when it comes to the design of the basic struc­ ture. Finally. or (rational) good.28. it is not essential for the parties to use the maximin rule in the original position. A s we shall see. T h e second condition obtains because the guaranteeable level is quite satisfactory.

mal­ ice. T h e failure to do so led some to think of the guaranteeable level as a natural. under w h i c h the principle of utility w o u l d require. T h u s they hoped to explain why Theory used the maximin rule even though they rejected the idea of such a natural. or the satisfaction of ac­ tual preferences. p. we cannot decide whether Harsanyi is entitled to impose them. 56. regardless of their source. and Scientific Explanation. But to support it w e need not invoke such drastic infringements of liberty as slavery and serfdom. level below which individual utility drops precipitously to minus infinity. excludes what he calls antisocial preferences.733f22. ed. Consider instead a possible balance of social advantages to a sizable majority from limiting the political liberties and reli­ gious freedoms of small and weak minorities. lies in the background. T h i s basic point about the guaranteeable level is crucial for the a r g u m e n t . Calling them antisocial is not enough. and the pleasures of cruelty. THE ORIGINAL POSITION of justice is a highly satisfactory political and social world. or satisfactions. 21. This important point about the guaranteeable level. for example. ." in Utilitarianism and Beyond. as trustees. or a nonutilitarian ideal. Until these questions are answered within a suitably specified framework that is recognizably utilitarian. Sen and Williams. Social Behavior. Individualistic Ethics. nonsocial level. N o w this is a fundamental departure from the classical (and traditional) utilitarian view in which all pleasures. for the sake of greater benefits for others or for society as a whole. as the text shows.100 III." PP. 22 T h e principle of average utility seems to allow possible outcomes that the parties. S o the third condition obtains to a high degree. envy. even with reasonably favorable conditions. or allow. nonsocial." Journal of Political Economy 63 (1955): 309-321. as it were. while perhaps obvious. are intrinsically good. One might ask whether a theory of basic rights and lib­ erties. that the basic rights and liberties of some be in various ways restricted. he owes us an expla­ says on Ethics. For example. reprinted in Es­ p p . When Harsanyi abandons that view (a view he held in 1955 in his "Cardinal Welfare. See the discussion by Joshua Cohen in "Democratic Equality. Utilitarians may question this assumption. nation of the grounds for counting certain pleasures. for naught. tacit and unexpressed. 21 T h e third condition obtains given the assumption w e make that there are realistic social circumstances. Harsanyi in his essay "Morality and the Theory of Rational Behavior. T o block this kind of argument some utilitarians have imposed restrictions on the kind of advantages to individuals relevant to their utility function. T h e s e circumstances are among the possibilities that the parties must guard against on behalf of those they represent. is never expressly stated in Theory. or even denied altogether. But. resentment. and w e try to support this claim in Part IV. must regard as altogether unacceptable and intolerable.). or op­ pressive religious persecution. i8ff. this was not the intention. We need to know where his restrictions on entries in utility functions come from and how they are justified. and Inter­ personal Comparisons.

Favorable conditions may exist when the political will does n o t . The Third Condition 101 §29. A b o u t the first condition of the maximin rule. T h i s fact provides the most straightforward argument for the two principles in the first com­ parison. we do not stress the first condition: we assume it to hold. its religious and eth­ nic composition. does that make those outcomes more likely than democracy? Surely such speculation is far beyond the reach of c o m m o n sense. an educated citi­ zenry and more—but where the political will for a democratic regime was altogether lacking. 23 T h u s the knowledge that reasonably favorable con­ ditions exist is far too little for the parties to specify a well-grounded proba­ bility distribution over the forms of political culture and tradition that might exist. and much else. technological and no lack of resources. or uncommon sense. One might say the same of the United States today. In any case. . Note that although w e have not discussed the first condition (di­ recting the parties to discount and not to rely on estimates of probability). only that it holds suf23. T h e Argument Stressing the Third Condition 29. dictator­ ships and class-states. In this comparison. T h e s e are conditions that.1. Yet whether the political will exists depends on a society's political culture and traditions. then. not fully. we have a strong argument for the two principles based on the fact that the second and third conditions both hold to a high degree. T h i s we do because the first condition raises difficult points in the theory of probability that so far as possible w e want to avoid. the parties don't have this particular knowledge. Germany between 1870 and 1945 is an example of a country where reasonably favor­ able conditions existed—economic. provided the political will exists. T h e point is this: the parties know the general commonsense facts of hu­ man psychology and political sociology. T h e y also know that the society in question exists in the circumstances of justice under reasonably favorable conditions. then. if one decides our constitutional regime is largely democratic in form only. H e n c e w e stipulate that knowledge and well-founded beliefs about probabilities must be based on at least some es­ tablished facts or well-supported beliefs about the world. O f course. we claim. make a constitutional regime possible. and so cannot have well-founded probabilities in selecting among alternatives. than democracies. T h i s fits any in­ terpretation of probability except a general subjectivist (or Bayesian) one. History tells of more aristocracies and theocracies. for that matter.2£. We then say the parties lack the requisite information. but only to some significant degree.

A n agreement must be made in good faith.102 III. Only in this way (in the first comparison) can they act responsibly as trust­ ees: that is. 29. T h e i r responsibility as trustees for citizens so regarded does not allow them to gamble with the basic rights and liberties of those citizens.2. effectively protect the fundamental interests of the person each represents. 24 T h e class of things w e can agree to is included within but smaller than the class of things that we can rationally choose. to do what w e can to retrieve our situation. T h i s argument rests on the parties' assuming that. the original position would not be well posed: no undertaking could be given in good faith. T h e r e is a further consideration in the argument that proceeds from the third condition. not only with the full in­ tention to honor it but also with a reasonable conviction that one will be able to do s o .3. those persons w o u l d never put their basic rights and liberties in jeopardy so long as there was a readily available and satisfactory alternative. and if the principle of utility may sometimes permit or else require the restriction or suppression of the rights and liberties of some for the sake of a greater aggregate of so­ cial well-being. T o explain: the parties are seen as making an agreement. should things turn out badly. 24. 29. W h a t aim could the parties suppose those persons might have for doing that? D o they wish to take a chance on having ever more adequate material means to fulfill their ends? But the par­ ties as representatives of citizens regarded as free and equal cannot for that purpose jeopardize citizens' basic rights and liberties. . given the capacity of those they represent to be free and equal persons and fully cooperating members of society over a complete life. it is not simply that they each separately make the same choice. then the parties must agree to the two principles of justice. T h e argument emphasizing the second and third conditions is es­ sentially as follows: if it is indeed the case that a well-ordered society regu­ lated by the two principles ofjustice is a highly satisfactory form of political society that secures the basic rights and liberties equally for all (and thus represents a highly satisfactory guaranteeable level). W e can de­ cide to take a chance and at the same time fully intend. THE ORIGINAL POSITION ficiently so that the argument of the first comparison emphasizing the sec­ ond and third conditions is not put in doubt. and at the same time make sure to avoid possibilities the realiza­ tion of which would be altogether intolerable. Should none of the alternatives meet this condition. that is.

§29: I53ff. the question whether. the second must be agreed to. A n y other agreement would not be made in good faith and the constraint o f the strains o f commitment would be violated. Consider. the original position with the maximin rule forces the parties to focus on and to try to specify the fundamental interests of free and equal citizens. Theory. This ques­ tion falls under the second part of the argument. 27. the first w o u l d permit.T h i s fact about the two principles is much clearer in the first comparison than in the second. and it is taken up later in Part V. 25 T h e y must ask themselves whether those they represent can rea­ 26 sonably be expected to honor the principles agreed to in the manner re­ quired b y the idea of an agreement. since the possibility of social conditions leading to institutions w e can not accept is an outcome the parties know about and must consider. when the conception is realized in basic institutions. The Third Condition 103 But if w e make an agreement. to honor our agreement (the one our representative makes on our instructions) means to apply those principles willingly as the public conception of justice for the basic structure. A conception of justice ensuring conditions under which citizens can fulfill these interests answers to a basic requirement of stability in ways the principle of utility does not. as remarked in the previous section.20. T h e crucial point is that. 27 Note that if our representative were to choose the prin­ ciple o f utility and things turn out badly for us. Plainly. but it holds in the latter as well. then. then. or require. 26. those who grow up and live under them acquire a sufficiendy strong sense of justice. we have no grounds for re­ neging: w e cannot plead that the original position situated our representa­ tive unfairly. as defined in §25. nor can w e plead ignorance. the parties must weigh what w e may call the strains of com­ mitment. it follows that the two principles of justice must b e selected over the principle o f utility." § V I . T h e original position is framed to rule out all excuses. For the reasons surveyed above.5. or surprise. . any two conceptions of justice: if in some possible social conditions. that is. Since in this case the con­ tent o f the agreement is the principles of justice to be mutually recognized and acknowledged in perpetuity (there is no second chance). a basic structure with positions w e could not accept. for they are the only alternative that guarantees the fundamental interests of citizens as free and e q u a l . and to affirm their implications in our thought and conduct over a complete life. 25. See also "Reply to Alexander and Musgrave. Whether this is so raises the question of the stability of a political conception of jus­ tice. while the sec­ ond under all conditions assures basic institutions we can honor whatever our position. w e have to accept the outcome and live with it in accordance with our pledge as given. I come back to this in §31.

citizens have.104 III. if possible. THE ORIGINAL POSITION 29. the original position is not one of them. It is the whole scheme of basic liber­ ties which has priority. T h e y not only protect the basic rights and liberties but provide an adequate comple­ ment of the primary goods required for exercising and enjoying those free­ doms. then for the moment w e have reached an impasse. T h e parties are said to reason accordingly. consider lib­ erty o f conscience and keep in mind the grounds the parties have for giving it priority. be guaranteed. among other interests. T o illustrate. that conception must be adopted. certain religious. since these liberties may conflict in particular cases and their claims must be adjusted to fit into one coher­ ent scheme of liberties. but it would not have priority unless each o f the basic liberties were of fundamental importance and could not be com­ promised unless doing so were unavoidable. T h e r e are indeed situations in which there is no way to avoid putting our basic freedoms in jeopardy. and that the fulfillment of these interests must. T h u s . T h e r e are some things w e cannot give up.1.4. T h e veil of ignorance implies that the parties have no basis for knowing or estimating whether the per- . w e say that the parties assume that. T o agree to the principle o f average utility would be to aim for still greater well-being while jeopardizing those rights and liberties without sufficient reason. but with the two principles available. and moral interests. We said that the force of the first argument emphasizing the second and the third conditions of the maximin rule depends on the idea that given our capacity as citizens to be free and equal. If the ad­ vocate of average utility rejects this. if but one of the conceptions o f justice available to the parties guarantees equal liberty of conscience. T h e aim is to make these adjustments in such a way that at least the more significant liberties involved in the adequate de­ velopment and full exercise of the moral powers in the two fundamen­ tal cases are normally compatible. w e would not put our basic rights and liberties at risk so long as there is a readily available and satisfactory al­ ternative. N o basic liberty is absolute. It is essential that the two principles are an available and satisfactory al­ ternative which does not impose excessive strains o f commitment. they are not negotiable. §30. philosophical. as persons with the two moral powers and a determinate complete conception of the good. T h e Priority of the Basic Liberties 30. T o conclude: given the conception o f the person in justice as fair­ ness.

in that event. D o i n g this does not provide a decisive 28. say. Were the parties to gamble in that way. Suppose someone denies that liberty o f conscience is a basic liberty and maintains that all human interests are commensurable. philosophical. on the chance that the per­ son each represents belongs to a majority or dominant religion and may. have an even greater liberty than that secured by equal liberty o f conscience. O n e way to make this idea psychologically intelligible is to say that the weights o f all interests are ordered according to the degree and duration o f the pleasure or agreeable experiences their fulfillment provides. for any two interests. and vice versa. they w o u l d show that they did not take seriously the religious. The Priority of the Basic Liberties 105 sons they represent affirm a majority or a minority religious or other doc­ trine. T h i s distinctive feature is connected with the often intractable nature o f religious. check the priority o f liberty by looking for counterexamples. Should this view be maintained. and moral conflicts in the absence of a secure public basis of mutual trust. T h i s means that. 30. and to the fact that for those w h o affirm them. See Theory. T h e point is that the parties cannot take risks by permitting a lesser liberty of conscience for minority religions. a clash o f considered convictions about the reasonableness o f some form o f hedonism. given the extent to which they are satisfied. §§83-84. T o explain.50. philosophical. then. broadly understood. T h e same grounds that favor the equality o f the basic liberties also favor their priority. on due reflection. T h i s remark is not an argument: it simply calls attention to the special place of such beliefs and convictions. Later (§32) w e main­ tain that this public basis is best founded on a constitution that guarantees the equal basic liberties once and for all. they are regarded as nonnegotiable. and consider whether. o f course.2. why the first principle of justice has priority over the second. and moral convictions o f the persons they represent. ex­ cept to say that w e can. w e again reach an apparent impasse. or philosophical or moral conviction. they w o u l d show that they did not under­ stand the nature o f religious belief. w e note that the basic liberties protect fundamental interests that have a special significance. Indeed. . the resulting priority judgments can be endorsed. Discussion might be carried further 28 but it won't be pursued here. there is al­ ways some rate o f exchange at w h i c h a rational person is willing to accept a lesser fulfillment o f the one in return for a greater fulfillment o f the other.

liberties and fair opportunities. that attitude is governed by the parties' aim to se­ cure for those citizens the basic rights. THE ORIGINAL POSITION argument. T o reply: in both fundamental comparisons w e assume that the parties' attitude toward uncertainty rests on what they regard as the fun­ damental interests of the citizens they represent. relative frequencies. there is some objective evidential basis for estimating probabilities. or the relative strengths of the various propensities of things (states o f affairs) that affect the outcome. 1 . the two principles w o u l d not be adopted. or if it seems as if they are pecu29. In the case of uncertainty there is no such objective basis. An Objection about Aversion to Uncertainty 3 1 . Eventually more must be said to justify this stipulation. 376-382. S. even obsessively. 29 O n e feature of the parties' situation in the original position is that they have no reliable basis for estimating the probabilities of the possible social and historical conditions. and at least an adequate share of all-purpose material means (the primary goods of income and wealth) so that the citizens represented will be able to exer­ cise these rights and liberties and to take advantage of those opportunities. 1 begin with a familiar distinction often made between uncertainty and risk and then state the objection. T h e distinction is this: in the case of risk. or actuarial tables.106 III. on the fundamental interests and needs (properly ordered) of citizens viewed as free and equal. . But in any case we view the parties as faced with uncertainty rather than risk. 31. as they must be. L. See pp. 1989) has an in­ structive discussion of risk aversion and uncertainty and their relation to the maximin rule. for example. H o w the parties regard the uncertainty they face depends. Natural Reasons (Oxford: Oxford University Press. T h e objection is this: the preceding account of the parties' use of the maximin rule to organize their deliberations describes them as irra­ tionally.2. Hurley. but if careful search uncovers no counter-cases. Were the parties prop­ erly described as rational. averse to uncertainty. or the probability that the persons they represent affirm one comprehensive doctrine (with its conception of the good) and not another. If the parties proceed in a cautious manner in organizing their deliberations by the maximin rule. then. T h i s feature results from h o w w e have set up the original posi­ tion. the priority o f liberty would be so far perfecdy reasonable. Given the conditions of the original position. §31. such bases as there may be are highly intuitive and sketchy.

a way to endorse the ideas and principles o f 30. O n the other hand. T h i s explanation o f the nature o f the interests the parties must pro­ tect may lead to the further objection that. and so on. the argu­ ment from the third condition is utilitarian after all. About Aversion to Uncertainty 107 liarly averse to uncertainty. nor is it the substantive idea o f utility in the tradition of utilitari­ anism.j i . T h a t there is a representation o f this kind says nothing about the content of justice as fairness. that is. I suppose any conception of justice can be expressed as maximizing a suitably doctored utility function. that support the use o f the maximin rule as a rule o f thumb. given the overriding importance of establishing a public conception ofjustice that guarantees the basic rights and liberties. despite appearances. T h i s constructed utility func­ tion is based o n the needs and requirements o f citizens—their fundamental interests—conceived as such persons. it is because it is rational for them as trustees. then. T h e reply to the utilitarian. T h e reasoning behind this thought is given in the caption to Figure 2. . O u r question n o w is whether. in view o f this reasoning. It is the fundamental nature o f the interests the parties must protect. and so as responsible for citizens' (unknown) determinate and complete good. to deliberate in this way. A brief account of it should help to clarify the relation between justice as fairness as a political conception and utilitarianism as a comprehensive view. I am grateful to Allan Gibbard for raising this question and discussing it with me. it is not based on people's actual preferences and interests. the ideas o f society as a fair system of cooperation and of citizens as free and equal. Surely the debate be­ tween utilitarian and nonutilitarian views is not about that trivial formal question! S u c h a utility function is but a mathematical representation that encodes certain basic features o f our normative assumptions. we should be cheered if utilitarians can find. and charac­ terized by the two moral powers. from within their o w n point of view. 31. this is not because they are moved b y a special psychology that makes them peculiarly averse to uncertainty. 30 I hold that it is not. Rather.3. T h i s is because the parties use a utility function (I am willing to call it that) so constructed as to reflect the ideal normative conceptions used to organize justice as fairness. and the unusual features o f the original position. justice as fairness is utilitarian. Indeed. and emphasize the second and third conditions. is that justice as fairness does not deny that the idea o f a utility function can be used to formulate justice as fairness.

This explains why the parties must reject alternatives that fail to guarantee the basic equal liberties. T h u s to the right of the bend. THE ORIGINAL POSITION Figure 2 Utility G = the well-ordered society corresponding to the two principles of justice under reasonably favorable conditions.108 III. everyone's utility curves become suddenly quite flat. T o the left of the bend everyone's utility curve falls precipitously. G . A n d so in the first comparison the two principles must be agreed to. From this it is clear that if the aim of the parties is changed from that of securing . A . Utility is measured on the y-axis. T h e utilitarian is said to reason as follows: the parties' use of the maximin rule rests on their knowing that the total utility curves of the persons they represent are similar and have a rather sharp bend at a point which coincides with the guaranteeable level specified by the well-ordered society of the two principles of justice. B = a possible utilitarian society under different reasonably favorable conditions than A and not imposing restrictions on the basic equal liberties. U U = the similar utility curve of all citizens derived from the constructed utility function. with its corresponding utility given by the U U curve. A = a possible utilitarian society in certain reasonably favorable conditions imposing restrictions on the basic equal liberties as allowed by the principle of average utility. and hence the third condition of the maximin rule also holds. B = are situations of the worst-off group. Different basic structures are arranged on the x-axis according to how well they satisfy the two principles of justice. and hence the second condition of the maximin rule holds. We assume that these structures always exist under reasonably favorable conditions. at point G in the figure. T h i s explains why the parties as citizens' representatives are not much concerned with outcomes superior to the guaranteeable level.

31. See R. thesis. 31. I have merely paraphrased his discussion of their paper in his honors B.4. 1989. the parties agree that for the purposes of a political conception of justice there are very strong reasons of simplicity and practicality for adopting the two principles of justice.31. possible that sometimes the losses imposed by restrict­ ing or denying the basic rights and liberties of a few are counterbalanced by a larger sum of advantages accruing to many. Harvard University.and group-interested tendencies so pervasive in political life. unless it can guarantee every one o f its members a better payoff in a n e w lottery. from the grand coalition of all to single indi­ viduals. we can ask whether there are people in a well-ordered society who are dissatisfied with its regulative principles of justice. w e must insist. O f course this modeling is not accurate to our account of the original position. that justice as fairness is not itself utilitarian.A. they would still agree on the two princi­ ple ofjustice. then. For their doing so means that they can j o i n in an overlap­ ping consensus on that conception. T h e preceding remarks are not meant. . Still. implicit in his account. A s a politi­ cal conception justice as fairness avoids such criticism whenever possible. can improve its situation by withdrawing and acting on its own. their paper brings out an important point: instead of asking whether there is a coalition that wants to withdraw. Howe and J. of course. and that this could happen in perhaps numer­ ous cases even under the favorable conditions assumed to obtain.1 shall not discuss this idea except to say that the core is the set of imputations of a game such that no coalition. Howe and Roemer also ignore the basic structure and consider distribution in terms of income and not primary goods. I append a remark on an instructive point made by H o w e and Roemer. and the great difficulty of making accurate interpersonal comparisons and assessments of total social utility. justice as fairness. Except for the idea of reasons-stability. as the idea of withdrawal payoffs and a new lottery is foreign to it. But given self. About Aversion to Uncertainty 109 the fundamental interests of the person each represents to that of maximizing average utility summed over all members of society. T h e core is dis­ cussed in any decent text on game theory. I a m indebted to Anthony Laden for pointing out to me the relevance of Howe and Roemer's paper for the question of stability. as criticism o f utilitarianism as a comprehensive doctrine. T h e y model the original position as a game with specified withdrawal payoffs and argue that the difference principle is in the c o r e 32 31 o f a game in which no coalition will 33 withdraw after the veil o f ignorance is lifted. T h e original position. Nevertheless. 32. 33. whatever its size." American Economic Review 71 (1981): 880-895.'It is. for the reasons stated. It is slighdy technical but I believe clear enough. "Rawlsian Justice as the Core of a Game. Roemer.

T h u s stability results first. at least. they must adopt principles that secure those interests. W h e n everyone's fundamental in­ terests are met. from the parties' being moved to secure those interests above all. there are situations in w h i c h the principle of utility re­ quires at least the restriction if not the suppression of basic rights and liberties. since in a new lottery they always expect to do better (to receive the mean income). whereas the principle o f utility does not ensure this and is unstable. We may call this reasons-sta­ bility: it depends in part on what moves the parties. these prin­ ciples achieve a stable society in H o w e and Roemer's sense: no coalition wants to withdraw.5. we saw in §29 that the setup of the original position forces the parties to focus on the basic needs and requirements. as dis­ tinct from a risk neutral (RN) game. then w e have stability. they view as an extremely risk averse ( E R A ) game. the fundamental in­ terests. our fundamental interests connected with the exercise of citizens' two moral powers take priority over other interests. H o w e and Roemer conclude that extreme risk aversion is essential to the adoption o f the two principles: they think a new lottery is not wanted by any coalition only because no one is willing to take risks. and when realized in the basic structure. T h e reason is that every one's fundamental interests are already cared for. 31. T h e R N game has no core: those below the mean income make up a coalition to withdraw. In reply. and finally. that is. a game in which a coalition will withdraw if it can raise the expectations of its members by having another lottery. In this way stability is simply a conse­ quence of how the original position is set up. the parties are led to adopt princi­ ples that lie in the core. and given the strains of commitment. Given the setup of the original position. even under reasonably favor­ able conditions.110 III. in doing this they are acting rationally and not in a peculiarly risk-averse manner. the idea that some things are not negotiable: from the parties' point o f view. I should add that many points in this account of the first com­ parison are highly controversial. and second. A s noted above. of those they represent. the asser­ tion that in the circumstances of justice. from the availability of principles that guaran­ tee citizens' fundamental interests. . among them the assumptions made about probability and the basis o f the aversion to uncertainty. THE ORIGINAL POSITION so understood. It is distinct from the two kinds of stability discussed later in Part V.

and so on. 32. prohi­ bitions against publicly arguing for various religious and philosophical. or use the same public facility at the same time for different purposes. or political liberty and the guarantees o f the rule of law. we need to distinguish between their restriction and their regulation. I sur­ vey. T h e requisite regulations should not be mistaken for restrictions on the content o f speech. For example. T h i s argument connects with the second condition of the maximin rule. Instituting the basic liberties. hence the institutional rules specifying them must be adjusted so that each liberty fits into a coherent scheme o f liberties.52.1. however these liberties are adjusted. which is that the guaranteeable level is a highly satisfactory social world. For one thing. S o long as what w e may call "the central range of application" o f each basic liberty is secured. T h e Equal Basic Liberties Revisited 32. just like realizing different interests. that final scheme is to be secured equally for all citizens. these liberties are bound to conflict with one another. as they must b e .2. T h e priority o f these liberties is not infringed when they are merely regulated. in order to be combined into one scheme. Rather. N o t everyone can speak at once. A s w e have said. or moral and political doctrines. T h e priority o f liberty (the priority o f the first principle over the second) means that a basic liberty can be limited or denied only for the sake o f one or more other basic liberties. for example. such as freedom of thought and liberty o f conscience. In adjusting the basic liberties. and never for a greater public good understood as a greater net sum o f so­ cial and economic advantages for society as a whole. requires social organization and schedul­ ing as to time and place. we add a second argument for the two principles over the principle o f utility. or against raising questions o f general . some features o f those liberties in addition to those noted in §13. Equal Basic Liberties Revisited 111 §32. N o r is it required that in the finally adjusted scheme each basic lib­ erty is equally provided for (whatever that would mean). the two principles are fulfilled. T o complete the first comparison. as they may be limited w h e n they conflict with one an­ other. rules o f order are essential for regulating free discus­ sion. Since one reason for this is the central role o f the equal basic liberties in a constitutional regime. none of the basic liberties. b y way o f preparation. is absolute.

" in his Essays in Jurisprudence and Philosophy. once w e hold that the burden of proof against those restrictions is to be decided by the other re­ quirements of the two principles of justice. 35 (a) T h e first fundamental case is connected with the capacity for a sense ofjustice and concerns the application o f the principles o f justice to the ba­ sic structure and its social policies. What is a better criterion? 32. and citizens' rational interests are not sufficiently explained in Theory to do the work asked of them. especially §111. §39: 220). .4). T h i s leads us to ask what are the truly fundamental cases and to introduce a criterion of significance o f a particular right or liberty. 32. Since the basic liberties have a special status in view o f their prior­ ity. We hope that the liberties that are not counted as basic are satisfactorily allowed for by the general presumption against legal restrictions. their specification into a coherent scheme securing the central range of ap­ plication of each may prove too cumbersome.. III. But (as Hart maintained) 34 the idea of the extent of a ba­ sic liberty is useful only in the least important cases. §37: 201." §§II. and then to specify the scheme of liberties in the light of that citizen's rational interests as known at the relevant stage of the four-stage sequence (Theory. also in Political Liberalism. 1st ed. T h e proposed criterion is this: the basic liberties and their priority are to guarantee equally for all citizens the social conditions essential for the adequate development and the full and informed exercise o f their two moral powers in what w e have referred to as the two fundamental cases (§13. §39: 217). VIII.3. 9. §32: 203. 35.112 III. T h e equal political liberties and free­ d o m of thought are to ensure the opportunity for the free and informed ap34. pp. A serious defect in Theory is that its account of the basic liberties pro­ poses two different and conflicting criteria. §32:179. See Hart's critical review article "Rawls on Liberty and Its Priority. THE ORIGINAL POSITION and particular fact about the justice of the basic structure and its social policies. O n e is to specify those liberties so as to achieve the most extensive scheme of the lib­ erties (Theory. § § 2 . the other tells us to take up the point of view of the rational representative equal citizen.4. 3 . T h e remarks below summarize (as does §13) points in "The Basic Liberties and Their Priority. both unsatisfactory. I X . 232-238. T h e s e two cases w e now specify more fully. If there are many basic liberties. lect. w e should count among them only truly essential liberties. Otherwise we have no way of identifying a fully adequate scheme o f basic liberties o f the kind w e seek.

32. Equal Basic Liberties Revisited

113

plication o f the principles of justice to that structure and to its policies by means of the full and effective exercise of citizens' sense ofjustice. All this is necessary to make possible the free use of public reason (§26). (b) T h e second fundamental case is connected with the capacity for a (complete) conception o f the good (normally associated with a comprehen­ sive religious, philosophical, or moral doctrine), and concerns the exercise of citizens' powers o f practical reason in forming, revising, and rationally pursuing such a conception over a complete life. Liberty o f conscience and freedom of association are to ensure the opportunity for the free and in­ formed exercise of this capacity and its companion powers o f practical rea­ son and judgment. (c) T h e remaining and supporting basic liberties—the liberty and integ­ rity (physical and psychological) of the person and the rights and liberties covered by the rule of law—can be connected with the two fundamental cases by noting that they are necessary if the other basic liberties are to be properly guaranteed. W h a t distinguishes the two fundamental cases is, first, their connection with the realization of the fundamental interests of citizens regarded as free and equal as well as reasonable and rational. In addition, there is the broad scope and basic character of the institutions to which the principles ofjustice are applied in those two cases. 32.5. Given this division of the basic liberties, the significance of a partic­ ular liberty is explained as follows: a liberty is more or less significant depending on whether it is more or less essentially involved in, or is a more or less necessary institutional means to protect, the full and in­ formed exercise of the moral powers in one (or both) of the two fundamen­ tal cases. T h e more significant liberties mark out the central range o f appli­ cation of a particular basic liberty; and in cases of conflict w e look for a way to accommodate the more significant liberties within the central range ofeach. Consider several illustrative examples. First, the weight of claims to free­ dom of speech, press, and discussion is to be j u d g e d by this criterion. Some kinds o f speech are not specially protected, and others may be of­ fenses, for example, libel and defamation of individuals, so-called fighting words (in certain circumstances). Even political speech when it becomes an incitement to the imminent and lawless use o f force is no longer protected as a basic liberty. W h y these kinds of speech are offenses may call for careful reflection, and will generally differ from case to case. Libel and defamation o f private

114

III.

THE

ORIGINAL

POSITION

persons (in contrast with political and other public figures) has no sig­ nificance at all for the free use of public reason to j u d g e and regulate the ba­ sic structure. In addition, those forms of speech are private wrongs. Incite­ ments to imminent and lawless use of force, whatever the significance o f the speaker's overall political views, are too disruptive o f democratic political procedures to be permitted by the rules of order of public discussion. S o long as the advocacy of revolutionary and even seditious doctrines is fully protected, as it should be, there is no restriction on the content of speech, but only regulations as to time and place, and the means used to express it. 32.6. A m o n g the basic rights is the right to hold and to have the exclu­ sive use o f personal property. O n e ground o f this right is to allow a suf­ ficient material basis for personal independence and a sense o f self-respect, both of w h i c h are essential for the adequate development and exercise of the moral powers. Having this right and being able effectively to exercise it is one of the social bases of self-respect. T h u s this right is a general right: a right all citizens have in virtue of their fundamental interests. T w o wider conceptions o f the right to property are not taken as basic: namely, (i) the right to private property in natural resources and means of pro­ duction generally, including rights o f acquisition and bequest; (ii) the right to property as including the equal right to participate in the control of the means o f production and o f natural resources, both o f w h i c h are to be socially, not privately, owned. T h e s e wider conceptions of property are not used because they are not necessary for the adequate development and full exercise of the moral pow­ ers, and so are not an essential social basis of self-respect. T h e y may, how­ ever, still be justified. T h i s depends on existing historical and social condi­ tions. T h e further specification of the rights to property is to be made at the legislative stage, assuming the basic rights and liberties are maintained.
37 36

As

a public political conception, justice as fairness is to provide a shared basis for weighing the case for and against various forms o f property, including socialism. T o do this, it tries to avoid prejudging, at the fundamental level of basic rights, the question of private property in the means of production. In that way perhaps discussion of this important question can proceed
36.1 do not consider here what falls under this personal right, except to say that it would seem to include at least certain forms of real property, such as dwellings and private grounds. 37. See Theory, §42: 239-242. T h e stages of a constitutional convention, the legislature, and the judiciary are discussed in Theory, §31.

33- The Second Condition

115

within a political conception of justice that can gain the support of an over­ lapping consensus.

§33. T h e Argument Stressing the Second Condition
33.1. In §29 w e examined the first argument for the two principles of justice guided by the maximin rule. T h a t argument focuses on the possible restrictions or denials of the basic liberdes allowed by the principle of (average) utility, and stresses the third condition. I now survey a second ar­ gument for the two principles stressing the second condition of the rule, namely, that the guaranteeable level is highly satisfactory. If we ask w h y this level is highly satisfactory, possibly close to the best that can practicably be achieved, the answer in part is that those principles are more effective than the principle of (average) utility in guaranteeing the equal basic liberties and therefore in meeting three essential requirements for a stable constitu­ tional regime.
38

T h e first requirement, given the fact o f pluralism, is to fix, once and for all, the basic rights and liberties, and to assign them a special priority. Doing this takes these guarantees off the political agenda of political par­ ties; it puts them beyond the calculus o f social interests, thus securing clearly and firmly the terms o f social cooperation on a footing of mutual re­ spect. T h e two principles of justice achieve this. B y contrast, to regard the calculus of social interests as always relevant in specifying basic rights and liberties, as the principle of utility does, leaves the status and content of those freedoms still unsetded. It subjects them to the shifting circumstances o f time and place, and by gready raising the stakes o f political controversy, it dangerously increases the insecurity and hostility o f public life. Consider the unwillingness to take off the political agenda such questions as which faiths are to have liberty of conscience, or which groups are to have the right to vote. S u c h an unwillingness perpetu­ ates the deep divisions latent in a society marked by the fact o f reasonable pluralism. It may betray a readiness to revive old antagonisms in the hope of gaining a more favorable position should circumstances prove propitious later on. B y contrast, securing the basic liberties and affirming their priority more effectively does the work of reconciliation among citizens and prom­ ises mutual recognition on a footing o f equality.

38. Much of this section is drawn from " T h e Idea of an Overlapping Consensus," Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 7 (1987), pp. 19-21, reprinted in Collected Papers, 442fF.

116

III.

THE

ORIGINAL

POSITION

33.2. T h e second requirement o f a stable constitutional regime is that its political conception should specify not only a shared but if possible a clear basis o f public reason, and one that can publicly be seen to be sufficiendy reliable in its own terms. Now, as w e have seen, the publicity condition means that the principles o f political right and justice are an essential part of public reason (§§25-26). T h e idea here, then, is that the two principles of justice specify a clearer and more reliable basis of public reason than the principle of utility. For if the elaborate theoretical calculations involved in applying the principle o f utility are publicly viewed as decisive, the highly speculative nature and the great complexity o f those estimations are b o u n d to make the application of the principle highly tentative and uncertain. T o see this, consider the difficulties of applying it to the basic structure. Moreover, the principle o f utility may prove politically unworkable, for people are likely to be highly suspicious of one another's arguments. T h e information these complex arguments presuppose is often hard if not im­ possible to obtain, and frequendy there are grave problems in reaching an objective and agreed u p o n assessment. Moreover, even though we think our arguments sincere and not self-serving w h e n w e present them, w e must consider what it is reasonable to expect others to think w h o stand to lose should our reasoning prevail. Arguments supporting political judgments should, if possible, be not only sound, but such that they can be publicly seen to be sound. T h e maxim that justice must not only be done, but be seen to be done, holds good not only in law but also in public reason. In these respects, the two principles (with an index o f primary goods defined in terms o f the ob­ jective features o f people's social situation) seem superior to the principle of utility. T h e question is not simply what is true, or what w e think is true, but what we can reasonably expect equal citizens, w h o are often politically at odds, to convince one another is true, or reasonable, even in face o f the burdens of judgment and especially the complexities of political judgment. 33.3. T h e third requirement of a stable constitutional regime is that its basic institutions should encourage the cooperative virtues o f political life: the virtues of reasonableness and a sense of fairness, and of a spirit of com­ promise and a readiness to meet others halfway. T h e s e virtues underwrite the willingness if not the desire to cooperate with others on terms that all can publicly accept as fair on a footing o f equality and mutual respect. T h e two principles foster these virtues, first, by removing from the political agenda the most divisive issues, pervasive uncertainty about w h i c h must

Whether it is a constitutional essential may be unclear. A m o n g the cooperative virtues o f political life is a disposition to honor the duty o f public civility (§26. which. Observe here that w h e n cit­ izens publicly recognize that the basic structure satisfies the two principles. Here is another place where the publicity condition has an important role. Abortion is a good example o f the latter.33. so.The Second Condition 117 undermine the basis o f social cooperation. and second. If w e accept the idea of public reason w e should try to identify political values that may indicate h o w this question can be set­ tled. they incorporate the ideal o f citizens as free and equal persons into public life by way o f the shared recognition of the prin­ ciples of justice and their realization in the basic structure. Cru­ cial to this process is that the principles of justice express an idea o f reci­ procity that is lacking in the principle of utility. implies that w h e n just institutions are established and working well over time. or a setdement approached.4. T h o s e principles further encourage the political virtues w h e n . and that the same holds for other questions bordering on those essentials. the cooperative political virtues are encouraged and sustained. bar theological and other comprehensive doctrines from deciding the case. when . that it con­ form to the requirements o f public reason itself. T h e duty of public civility goes with the idea that the political discussion of constitutional essentials should aim at free agreement reached o n the ba­ sis o f shared political values. that it properly regulate the institutions through which society reproduces itself over time. along with a reasonable moral psychology (to be discussed in Part V ) . but it certainly borders on one and can be the cause o f deep conflict. and thus restricts the use o f those means o f warfare that make achieving a just peace more difficult. T h e aim is to formulate these values as political values within the limits of public reason. It directs us to appeal to political values in cases involving the constitutional essentials. this public recognition itself not only encourages mutual trust among citi­ zens generally but also nurtures the development o f attitudes and habits o f mind necessary for willing and fruitful social cooperation. that it secure the full equality o f w o m e n . I have in mind such values as the follow­ ing: that public law show an appropriate respect for human life. 33. T h i s incorpora­ tion. for example. In the way that a just war aims at a just peace.3). especially w h e n they become divisive. through the publicity condition. b y specifying a rea­ sonably clear basis of free public reason. and also in other cases insofar as they border on those essentials and become politically divi­ sive. and finally.

A franchiser (say Dunkin' Donuts) is deciding what kind of terms to put in its contract with its many franchi­ sees. Here the term "capital" is appropriate because these virtues are built up slowly over time and depend not only on existing political and social institutions (themselves slowly built u p ) . It consists in rallying the troops and in­ timidating the other side. w e are to use arguments and appeal to reasons that others are able to accept. W h e n these virtues are widespread in society and sustain its political conception of justice. en­ courages the spirit o f cooperation between citizens on a footing of mutual respect. T o conclude: note that the second argument for the two principles does not.5. Rather. as it were. Suppose there are two strategies it may follow. T h e y view the best agreement as one that guarantees background justice for all. and allows within itself sufficient social space for (permissible) ways of life fully worthy o f citizens' allegiance. as up to them. T o be is to confront. T h e y belong to society's p o ­ litical capital. T h e second strategy is to set once and for all a fixed percentage that seems fair throughout the franchise and to require of franchisees only certain minimum standards of quality and service so as to preserve the franchiser's reputation and the good will of the pub- . it focuses on the nature of the public political culture realized by the two principles of justice and the desirable effects of that culture on the moral quality of public life and on citizens' political character. 33. 39 39. which I owe to Peter Murrell. these virtues can depreciate. at least in part. T h e idea o f public reason brings out that what this thought overlooks are the great values achieved by a society that realizes in its public life the cooperative political virtues o f reasonableness and a sense of fairness. Consider the following analogy. and must b e constandy renewed by being reaffirmed and acted on in the present. But much political de­ bate betrays the marks of warfare. as well as increasing the percentage when particular franchises become more profitable. but also on citizens' experi­ ence as a whole and their public knowledge o f the past. o f a spirit of compromise and the will to honor the duty o f public civility. hoping to take a higher percentage of the return in better-situ­ ated franchises. Again. T h e parties in effect try to fashion a certain kind of social world. T h e first is to try to make a separate contract with each franchisee. like the first. THE ORIGINAL POSITION we aim for free agreement in political discussion. but. they regard the social world not as given by history. focus on the individual g o o d of citizens (the need to avoid intolerable denials or restrictions o f our basic rights and liberties). like capital.118 III. w h i c h must now increase its efforts or back down. In all this one may find the thought that to have character is to have firm convictions and be ready to proclaim them defiandy to others. they constitute a great public good.

While the outcome o f that comparison achieves the most fundamental aim of justice as fairness. the sec­ ond strategy is superior. on which its profits depend. From the point of view of the franchiser's own interests it is more rational to try to create a climate of fair cooperation based on clear and fixed terms that strike all parties as reasonable than to try for adjustable fine-tuned contracts that might en­ able the franchiser to increase profits as particular opportunities arise. T h e most it shows is that this principle adequately secures the general all-pur- lic. thus strengthening the franchise as a whole. by taking basic rights and liberties as setded once and for all. Second Fundamental Comparison: Introduction 34. as these are shaped b y the legal order. T h e franchiser's interest in its reputation is se­ cured." in Collected Works. and the continuing suspicion and distrust which that uncertainty would cause. 40. ed. 7ff.1. Note that the second strategy of setting a fixed percentage for all franchises and enforcing minimum standards has the advantage that it fixes once and for all the terms of agreement between the franchiser and its franchisees. given the very great initial uncertainty the franchiser faces. but the main institutions o f society as a whole. Here I assume that the minimum standards of quality and service are quite clear and can be enforced without seeming arbitrariness. while at the same time franchisees have an incentive to meet the franchiser's mini­ mum standards and to increase their own return. We have now completed our survey of the first fundamental com­ parison: the reasoning favoring the two principles of justice (as a unit) over the principle o f average utility (as the sole principle of justice). M . S.Second Fundamental Comparison 119 Here there is a parallel with J.. "Remarks on Bentham's Philosophy. J. p p . o f course. and the kind o f national character (Mill's term) that the institutions so shaped encour­ age. 40 Mill thought that what is fundamental is not the consequences o f particular laws taken one by one (although these are not. 10 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Mill's objection to Bentham's princi­ ple o f specific consequences. T h e y know the franchiser will not try to increase its return should they become more prosperous. it does not give much support to the difference principle. Similar reason­ ing characterizes the second argument for the two principles: the well-or­ dered society that realizes those principles is a highly satisfactory social world because it encourages a political character that. i6ff. T h u s .34. Robson. . as one system. See Mill. There is some evi­ dence that in fact successful franchisers follow the second strategy. vol. the great uncertainty in cooperative relations between franchiser and franchisee that the first strategy would perpetu­ ate. sustains the political virtues o f so­ cial cooperation. unimportant). H e was concerned to specify the idea o f utility in line with the perma­ nent interests o f man as a progressive being so that the principle o f utility would underwrite a social world congenial to human good. §34. 1969).

1. in that order. For mixed conceptions. T h e grounds we consider fall under the ideas of publicity. T h e principle of average utility. . T h e i r role would be that o f subordinate norms regulating social policies within the limits allowed by more funda­ mental principles. and second. or nearly enough so to provide an independent argument for the two principles. A minimum must be included. against the more serious losses of well-being. §21: 107. I begin. then it would appear that other forms of the restricted utility principle would also be rejected. to be ar­ ranged so as to maximize average utility consistent. combined with a suitable social minimum.2. Should these principles still be favored in this comparison. with publicity: earlier (§25. not only against the denial or restriction o f the basic liberties and o f fair equality of opportunity. THE ORIGINAL POSITION pose means w e need to take advantage o f our basic freedoms.Grounds Falling under Publicity 35. T h e second comparison is fundamental for this reason: among the conceptions of justice in which the principle o f utility has a prominent role. then. Note that the third condition of the maximin rule no longer obtains since both alternatives ensure against the worst possibilities. reciproc­ ity and stability. is substituted for the difference principle. then. w e argue that the second condi­ tion of the maximin rule is fully satisfied. T h e basic structure is. Since w e do not want to put any weight on the first condition o f that rule. But other principles may be superior to it on that count. with guaranteeing the equal basic liberties (including their fair value) and fair equality o f op­ portunity. see Theory.1) 41. given the social minimum in the utility principle. T o explore this question let us now discuss a second fundamental com­ parison in which the two principles of justice taken as a unit are compared to an alternative exactly the same as those principles except in one respect. for the parties will always insist on some insurance of that kind: the ques­ tion is how much is appropriate. but also. 41 34. the principle of restricted utility w o u l d seem to be the strongest rival to the two principles of justice. and then w e try to show that both would favor the difference princi­ ple over that o f restricted utility. we exclude probability arguments entirely. with maintaining a suitable social minimum.120 III. the more and the less advan­ taged. In effect. §35. first. We assume that there are two groups in society. W e re­ fer to this mixed conception as the principle of restricted utility.

(iii) T h e third level is the mutual recognition o f the complete justifica­ tion of justice as fairness in its o w n terms. w h e n there is an overlapping consensus o f comprehensive doc­ trines. Before surveying the grounds favoring the difference principle based on this requirement. two forms o f ideological consciousness. whereas delusions are false or unreasonable beliefs we accept. 42 Of course. citizens will normally have their o w n further grounds for affirming the political conception. In the case of illusions. Here I entertain the fantasy that works like this restatement are known in the public culture. the general facts (at the sec­ ond level) must be believed by citizens for g o o d reasons.Grounds Falling under Publicity 121 we said that it requires the parties to evaluate principles o f justice in the light o f the consequences—political. still. . citizens know its jus­ tification as fully as y o u and I do w h o are working out that view. that w e model in the original position the commonsense knowledge and beliefs o f average reasonable citizens about their basic institutions and how they work (§26). social. their beliefs must not be illusions or delusions. as 42. Marx thinks. that is. It is by means o f these general facts. let us distinguish between three levels of publicity that a well-ordered society may achieve: (i) T h e first level is the mutual recognition b y citizens of the principles o f justice together with the public knowledge (or reasonable belief) that the institutions o f the basic structure actually satisfy these principles (§3). 35. For example. and this fact too is publicly known. made available to the par­ ties. and psychological—of the public recognition b y citizens generally that these principles are affirmed by them and effectively regulate the basic structure. is a society without ideology (understood in Marx's sense o f false consciousness). 43. that they will carry reflection so far is unlikely. 43 Since the beliefs w e attribute to the parties are those of common sense. (ii) T h e second level is the mutual recognition b y citizens o f the general facts on the basis o f which the parties in the original position select those principles. O f course.35. by the surface appearances of capitalist market arrangements and fail to recognize the exploitation taking place beneath them. T h a t is. T h e h o p e is that a well-ordered society in which the full publicity condition is satisfied. or else irrational and inhuman values we endorse. the full justification is available in the public culture for them to consider if they w i s h . we are misled. in both cases because doing so is psychologically necessary for us to assume our role in society and for its basic institutions to work properly. But much is required for this to be so.2. where all three levels are achieved.

T h e importance of this point in the present context is that in the second comparison the common content of the two alternatives includes the con­ ceptions of citizen and society used in justice as fairness. T h e latter is a maximizing aggregative principle with no inherent tendency toward ei­ ther equality or reciprocity. one way for a society to try to overcome ideological con­ sciousness is to affirm the institutions of freedom of thought and liberty o f conscience. While full publicity can­ not guarantee the absence o f ideology. §36. there is a decent chance most of those beliefs are accepted for good reasons. Grounds Falling under Reciprocity 36. For our purposes one important consequence o f the publicity con­ dition is that it gives the political conception of justice an educational role (§16. if we af­ firm justice as fairness. is the most appropriate principle of distributive justice (in the nar­ rower sense). Since the idea of society as such a cooperative system contains some idea of mutual advantage. if anything does.2). and of society as a fair system of cooperation between citizens so viewed. for rational inquiry and considered reflection tend over time. then. In any case. in good part. form their conception of themselves as citizens from the public culture and from the conceptions of the person and society implicit in it. m u c h has been gained: people know the principles of political justice their basic institutions satisfy. to expose illusions and delusions. and o f science when not controversial. or for its institutions to be effective and stable. the fact that the difference principle includes an idea of reciprocity distinguishes it from the restricted utility principle. W h a t is at issue. they have reasonable grounds for affirming those principles. this role is central to it. THE ORIGINAL POSITION we called it. as a general fact of commonsense political sociology. 35. and whether the difference principle or the principle of re­ stricted utility is more appropriate to the conceptions o f citizens as free and equal. any such tendency depends on the conse- . We suppose. A n d the justice of their institutions will reduce the need they might otherwise have for false beliefs (delusions) about their society in or­ der to assume their role in it.3. Since justice as fair­ ness is worked up from fundamental intuitive ideas belonging to that cul­ ture.1. that those w h o grow u p in a well-ordered society will. A s I have said. the educational role introduced by the pub­ licity condition means that the common content of the alternatives provides a foothold for grounds o f reciprocity.122 III. and.

We get that principle. Mass. T h e idea o f reciprocity implicit in the difference principle selects a natural focal point between the claims of ef­ ficiency and equality. 44 0 36. and w e saw that this point is the efficient point closest to the 45 line. T o simplify matters. then.2. as every­ one gains in the segment O D and D is the first (Pareto) efficient point. Grounds Falling under Reciprocity 123 quences of applying it in given circumstances. together with an idea of reciprocity. which is on the southeast-sloping part o f the O P curve to the right of D . A t D the parties ask whether they should proceed from D to B . and if so. which line represents equality and preserves equal division (see Figure 1. 62). the more and the less advantaged. . Imagine they have agreed to move from O to D . T h e idea of a focal point is due to Thomas Schelling. 57f. §1. by taking equal division as the starting point. T o see one way the parties might arrive at the difference principle. Strat­ egy of Conflict (Cambridge. T h e parties w o u l d ac­ cept inequalities in income and wealth w h e n these work effectively to im­ prove everyone's situation starting from equal division. e. which vary from case to case.36. "Taxation of Wage Income for Economic Justice. they take equal division of income and wealth (equal life-prospects as in­ dexed by those primary goods) as the starting point.: Harvard University Press. T h e principle selects the highest point on the (most efficient) O P curve.g.See E. i960). T h e y then ask: are there good reasons for departing from equal division. S.. those w h o gain more are to do so on terms acceptable to those w h o gain less. p . T h i s suggests the difference principle: taking equal division as the benchmark. B is the 44.3. and in particular to those w h o gain the least. Since the pardes in the original position are symmetri­ cally situated and know (from the common content of the two alternatives) that the principle adopted will apply to citizens viewed as free and equal. Phelps. let us assume that there are only two groups in soci­ ety. In its simplest form. A political conception ofjustice must take into account the require­ ments o f social organization and economic efficiency. and focus on inequalities o f income and wealth alone. T h e two fundamental comparisons exploit this fact: as w e have said. the second with respect to reciprocity. p p . the difference principle regulates these inequalities. the first brings out the advantage of the two principles with respect to equality (the equal basic liberties). consider Figure 1. which in­ equalities arising in what ways are acceptable? 36." Quarterly Jour­ nal of Economics 87 (1973).

T h e difference principle represents an agreement to stop at D and not to enter the conflict segment. 36. are also efficient points: movements along that segment can raise the index o f one group only by lowering the index of the other. where the utility of the most advantaged is maximized. and thus take equal division as the appropriate starting point. T h i s represents a fair undertaking between the citizens seen as free and equal with respect to those inevitable contingencies. T h e points in the seg­ ment D to B and on to the point F (the feudal point). or of initial social position. But it is hard to imagine what it might be. D is the only point on the (highest) O P curve that meets the following reciprocity condition: those w h o are better off at any point are not better off to the detriment of those w h o are worse off at that point. w e say this is an (not the only) appropriate reciprocity condition. Parallel but not identical considerations hold for the contin­ gencies of social position and of good and bad luck. a political conception of justice must generate its own support and .1. Since the parties represent citizens as free and equal. But since the difference principle applies to the basic structure. T o sum up: the difference principle expresses the idea that. T h e idea of stabihty can be introduced as follows: in order to be stable. §37. a place they also d o not morally deserve). except in ways that benefit everyone. a deeper idea of reciprocity implicit in it is that social institutions are not to take advantage o f contingencies o f native endowment.124 III. T h i s idea of reciprocity is implicit in the idea of regarding the distribution o f native endowments as a common asset. T h e segment D F is the conflict segment in contrast to the segment O D along w h i c h everyone benefits by moving northeast. Recall what w e said in §21: the better endowed (who have a place in the distribution of native endowments they do not morally deserve) are encour­ aged to seek still further benefits—they are already favored by their fortu­ nate place in the distribution—provided they train their endowments and use them in ways that contribute to the good of all.4. and in particular to the good of the least endowed (who have a less fortunate place in the distribu­ tion. Grounds Falling under Stability 37. W e haven't shown there is no other such condition. or o f good or bad luck over the course of life. starting from equal division. the more advantaged are not to be better off at any point to the detriment of the less well off. THE ORIGINAL POSITION Bentham point at w h i c h average utility (so far as it depends on income and wealth) is maximized (subject to the constraints). including the least fa­ vored.

or to urge renegotiation. there exists no principle of distribution that can eliminate all tendencies to defect or to renegotiate. Given this conception of themselves.3. the desire to renegotiate or to violate the current terms o f cooperation. as in some garden of Eden. as we discuss further in Part V. that lead them to support the political concep­ tion for its o w n sake: its ideals and principles are seen to specify g o o d rea­ sons. in and through the basic structure o f their institutions.or groupinterestedly in a purely strategic. First. always acted self. 37. at least under rea­ sonably favorable conditions. Let us note three such reasons. Here we suppose that political and social cooperation would quickly break d o w n if everyone. as well as dispositions and sentiments.37. T h i s means that those w h o grow up in the well-ordered society in w h i c h that concep­ tion is realized normally develop ways of thought and judgment. or game-theoretic fashion. or even many people. 37.3). and hence they are more likely to violate the terms of cooperation. there is the effect of the edu­ cational role o f a public political conception (§35. T o ensure stability. For the further they can shift the distribution of income and wealth into the conflict segment (D to F ) . such tendencies would fail to exist only if there were no conflict segment and the O P curve. In the well-ordered society of justice as fairness it seems that those most likely to be discontent are the more advantaged. are engaged in mutu­ ally advantageous social cooperation. or at any rate as not seriously illegitimate. the more they benefit. S o while the more advantaged might gain further income and wealth. given their present and prospective social position. they think that the principle o f distribution that applies to that structure . were to rise indefinitely to the northeast. A t any efficient point one group can do better at the expense of the other. and hence willingly abide by it. T h u s w e suppose all members of society to view themselves as free and equal citizens w h o . T h e n w h y aren't they con­ tinually urging renegotiations? O f course. this consideration is outweighed by other reasons. if we suppose these tendencies to arise whenever gains to either group (measured in income and wealth) are possible.2. or else to silence.Grounds Falling under Stability 125 the institutions to w h i c h it leads must be self-enforcing. In a democratic regime stable social cooperation rests on the fact that most citizens accept the political order as legitimate. the political conception must provide other reasons to counterbalance. Citizens accept existing institutions as just and usually have no desire either to violate or to renegotiate the terms o f social cooperation.

provided that they do so in ways that improve the situation of others.126 III. A third reason connects with the three requirements for a stable consti­ tutional regime. are better placed to enter it. and that the constant shifts in relative bargaining positions will not be exploited for self.or group-interested ends.1. their pub­ licly affirming that principle conveys to the less advantaged their acceptance of an appropriate idea of reciprocity in the clearest possible way. Moreover.and groupinterested bargaining and offers some hope of realizing social concord and civic friendship. T h e review of these requirements (in §33) shows how the basic rights and liberties fashion through institutions a public political cul­ ture encouraging mutual trust and the cooperative virtues. since the difference principle expresses an agreement not to enter the conflict segment. since they are mindful of the deeper idea of reciprocity implicit in the difference principle w h e n it is applied to the basic structure: namely." Philoso­ phy and Public Affairs 18 (Winter 1989): 23. McCIennen. where in the conflict segment is the Bentham 45-1 owe this point to E . . 45 In this manner the more advantaged also express their recognition of the great im­ portance of the public culture with its political virtues encouraged by the two principles. F. and since the more advantaged. for once it is publicly understood that the three main kinds of contingencies tend to be dealt with only in ways that advance the general g o o d . T h e first difficulty with the principle o f restricted utility concerns its indeterminacy: that is. then everyone has this reason to accept it. T h e difference principle has the same effect. and benefited further by a basic structure (affirmed by the less advan­ taged) that offers them the opportunity to better their situation.1. "Justice and the Problem of Stability. T h e point here is that the more advantaged see themselves as already benefited by their fortunate place in the distribution of native endowments. the more advantaged have a second reason. THE ORIGINAL POSITION should contain an appropriate idea of reciprocity. Grounds against the Principle of Restricted Utility 38. §38. w h o hold posi­ tions of authority and responsibility. If the considerations ad­ duced (in §36 above) show that the difference principle contains such an idea. a culture that inhibits the wastes of endless self. T h e whole discussion is instructive. that it tends to ensure that the three contingencies (of §16) are taken advantage o f only in ways that are to everyone's advan­ tage. say. We also suppose that in addition to the reason w h i c h all have. mutual trust and the cooperative virtues are further encouraged.

the difference principle rests on our disposition to re­ spond in kind to what others do for (or to) us.1 said that in adjusting the minimum in the principle of restricted utility—in striking the most appropriate balance between maxi­ mizing average utility and assuring a suitable minimum—it is possible that those who favor that principle are actually guided by the difference principle operating in their reflections unplicidy. All the more reason. O f course. Second. if possible. For as a princi­ ple of reciprocity. and moreover one that should be. Finally. 47 But how is this minimum to be determined? We need some 46.2. In my account of the problem of the social minimum I am much indebted to Jeremy Waldron's discussion. asking that o f the less advantaged would seem to be an extreme demand. the principle of restricted utility contains an idea of a social minimum.3#. or^indeed any other point specified by a utility principle (such as the Nash p o i n t ) ? 46 W e require a workable public interpersonal measure to identify it.3. 47. esp. 38. be­ ing more often in positions of authority and political power. pp. our capacity for identification with the interests and con­ cerns of others. they are more strongly tempted to violate any principle o f justice. Indeed. §18. 38. the more advantaged may fail to comply with a just basic structure. in asking the less advantaged to accept over the whole of their life fewer economic and social advantages (measured in terms o f util­ ity) for the sake of greater advantages (similarly measured) for the more ad­ vantaged. At Theory. 27-32. M y thought was that in this case the utility principle does not offer a genuine al- . T h e difficulties with the principle of utility on this count are substantial.2). §49: 278-281. it is not because much is asked of them but because." Journal of Applied Philoso­ phy 3 (1986). T h e psychological strains that may lead to instability are b o u n d to be greater. T h i s is one consideration that led us to introduce the idea of primary goods based on objective features of peoples' circum­ stances. It may be that the inequalities permitted by the difference principle are al­ ready too great for stability. But if so. or better. "John Rawls and the Social Minimum. Uncertainty is likely to increase disputes and mistrust for much the same reason that unclear and ambiguous principles do (§33. then. Against Restricted Utility 127 point. while the utility principle puts more weight on what is a considerably weaker disposition. See Figure 1. recognized by all as reasonably reliable. the principle of utility asks more of the less advantaged than the difference principle asks o f the more advantaged. not to enter the conflict segment under the guise o f maximizing utility. that o f sym­ pathy.

We feel left out. T h e principle o f utility rejects this concept. the familiar concept o f the minimum as a social divi­ dend specified as approximating an equal share o f the social product. they must be reasonably confident that the person each represents will be able to honor it. we cannot affirm the principles of justice in our thought and conduct over a complete life. T h e meaning of "affirm" here can be given by noting two ways in which we react when the strains o f commitment seem to us excessive. Earlier (in §29. mak­ ing allowances as necessary for unavoidable inequalities in running a mod­ ern society. T h e r e will be different variants of the principle of restricted utility depending on the con­ cept followed. and. and w e are ready as the occasion arises to take violent action in protest against our condition. they reject society's conception of justice and see themselves as oppressed.3) w e said the pardes must take the strains of commitment into account. O n e w h o supports the utility principle may say that the strains o f com­ mitment are excessive only when our share of social resources doss not per­ mit us to lead a decent human life. w e said. In the first way we become sullen and resentful. He con­ nects this idea with the strains of commitment. for example. T h e idea is that in virtue o f our humanity—our tentative to the difference principle. S o let's ask: with the principles of the equal liber­ ties and of fair equality of opportunity already adopted. to make an agreement in good faith. I accept his account as showing that my claim in Theory is mistaken. T h i s is because. w e can no longer affirm the principles of justice (with their minimum) as the public conception of justice for the basic structure. those principles are not ours and fail to engage our moral sensibility. THE ORIGINAL POSITION concept of it that yields guidelines for what it is to provide. T h o u g h we are not hostile or rebellious.128 III. . In this case the least advantaged are bitter. T o this Waldron replies by formulating a distinct idea of the minimum as that of meeting the basic human needs essential for a decent life. what is the lowest minimum necessary to assure that the strains of commitment are not exces­ sive? T h e s e strains are excessive. as does justice as fairness. withdrawn and cynical. A concept of the minimum that does fit the restricted utility principle is the following. and to meet what in our society is seen as citizens' essential needs. Some concepts of the minimum are incompatible with that principle. T h i s forces a revision of the argument against the utility principle. w h e n . I also follow his lead in using that concept of a minimum in the text to go with the principle of restricted utility. T h e second way is milder: we grow distant from political society and retreat into our social world. viewing ourselves as free and equal citizens.

But is this sufficient to prevent the strains o f commitment from being excessive in the second way? T h i s requires that the least advantaged feel that they are a part o f political soci­ ety. that the argument from the strains of commit­ ment requires n o more than this. Moreover. But it seems inadequate to ensure that the strains of commitment are not violated in the second way. the veil of ignorance with its attendant uncertainties does not require a higher minimum than one covering those essential needs. I suggest that the concept o f a minimum as covering the needs essential for a decent human life is a concept for a capitalist welfare state. O n c e the two principles w i n out in the first comparison. T h i s concept o f the minimum is vague in that the guidelines it sug­ gests do not specify a very definite minimum. (We come back to some o f the details o f this in Part IV. when w e take seriously the idea of society as a fair system of cooperation between citizens as free and equal—the outcome o f the first comparison means that w e are dealing with such a case—we hope to realize another conception of political . B u t the concept itself is distinct from that injustice as fairness. T h e least advan­ taged will not experience their condition as so miserable. W h a t is owed persons in vir­ tue o f their humanity and what is owed them as free and equal citizens (given the other social policies as adjusted b y the difference principle) may be much the same.38. whether a social minimum covering only the needs essential for a decent life guarantees that the strains of commitment will not be excessive. In Part IV. and this not merely on the ground that it is politically prudent to eliminate the causes o f unrest. Let us grant that the minimum in the restricted utility principle will pre­ vent those strains from being excessive in the first way. or their needs so unmet. and ask the main question: namely. But put this matter aside for the moment. that they reject society's conception of justice and are ready to re­ sort to violence to improve their condition.4. Against Restricted Utility 129 common human needs—everyone is owed at least that much. together with the whole family o f social policies. 38. which will in any case de­ pend in part o n society's level o f wealth.) O f course. though. For the difference principle requires a mini­ mum that. and view the public culture with its ideals and principles as o f sig­ nificance to themselves. maximizes the life-prospects o f the least advantaged over time. it is possible that the social minimums specified b y these two concepts will not be very far apart in practice. It suffices to prevent the strains of commitment from being violated in the first way mentioned. It is claimed.

§39. it seems wrong that some or much of society should be amply provided for. unless there is real scar­ city. whatever it may provide be­ yond essential human needs. So let us review several o f the reasons for regulating economic and social in­ equalities. Justice as fairness is an egalitarian view. while the less urgent ones of others are satisfied. suffer hardship. Comments on Equality 39. Urgent needs and wants go unfulfilled. and pre­ sumably more.1. But here it may not be inequality of income and wealth as such that bothers us. together with the other social policies it regulates. We hope that even the situation o f the least advantaged does not prevent them from being drawn into the public world and seeing them­ selves as full members o f it. must derive from an idea of reciprocity appro­ priate to political society so conceived. 48 (a) O n e reason is that. THE ORIGINAL POSITION society. all should have at least enough to meet their basic needs. I am indebted to some notes of and discussion with T. and good fortune over the course o f life. T h i s covers at least the basic needs essential to a decent life. T h e y also think of distributive justice as regulating economic and social inequali­ ties in life-prospects. M . it is not sufficient for what in Part I V I call a property-owning democ­ racy in which the principles of justice as fairness are realized. in the absence of special circumstances. For these various reasons. T o this end. once they understand society's ideals and prin­ ciples and recognize h o w the greater advantages achieved by others work to their good.130 III. (b) A second reason for controlling economic and social inequalities is 48. W e suppose citizens to view themselves as free and equal. inequalities affected by one's social class of origin. the differ­ ence principle specifies a social minimum derived from an idea of reciproc­ ity. and to regard society as a fair system of social cooperation over time. W h i l e a social minimum covering only those essential needs may suit the requirements of a capitalist welfare state. while many. but in what way? T h e r e are many kinds of equality and many reasons for being concerned with it. na­ tive endowments. or even a few. Scanlon. . We then say: if those w h o view themselves and their society in that way are not to withdraw from their public world but rather to consider them­ selves full members of it. not to mention hunger and treatable illness. instead w e may think that. the social minimum.

H i g h status assumes other positions beneath it.39. but also because without a special justification they make markets unfair. In these cases a certain equality. open and workably competitive markets. in virtue of their control over the machinery o f state. 50 49. Fixed status ascribed by birth. T h i s may arouse wide­ spread attitudes of deference and servility on one side and a will to domi­ nate and arrogance on the other. we are again concerned with the effects of economic and social inequality. A n d so w e like to think that those with higher status normally earn or achieve their position in appropriate ways that yield com­ pensating benefits for the general good. in Collected Works. so if w e seek a higher status for ourselves. Insofar as this domination is experienced as a bad thing. as is some­ times said. they tend to support political inequality. (d) Inequality can be wrong or unjust in itself whenever society makes use of fair procedures. is a condition o f eco­ nomic and political justice. . to enact a system of law and property that ensures their dominant position in the economy as a whole.Comments on Equality 131 to prevent one part of society from dominating the rest. and fair political elections. (c) A third reason brings us closer to what is wrong with inequality in it­ self. or by gender or race. or a well-moderated inequality. the bases of political power are (educated) intelligence. 49 T h i s power allows a few. 18:163. by w h i c h he meant the ability to co­ operate in pursuing one's political interests. 50. prop­ erty. T w o examples are: fair. and the power of combination. we in effect support a scheme that entails others' having a lower status. T h e first great figure on this subject seems to have been Rousseau in his Discourse on Inequality (1755). M o n o p o l y and its kindred are to be avoided. M u c h the same is true of elections influenced by the dominance of a wealthy few in politics. Significant political and economic inequalities are often associated with inequalities of social status that encourage those of lower status to be viewed both by themselves and by others as inferior. among them inefficiency. But is the inequality wrong or unjust in itself? It is close to being wrong or unjust in itself in that in a status system. W h e n those two kinds of inequalities are large. See Mill's review of Tocqueville's Democracy in America. that is. Status is a positional g o o d . A s Mill said. is particularly odious. not everyone can have the highest rank. T h e s e effects o f social and economic in­ equalities can be serious evils and the attitudes they engender great v i c e s . as making many peoples' lives less good than they might otherwise be. not simply for their bad effects.

and their being related as equals is part both of what they are and of what they are recognized as be­ ing by others. which belong to the first part of the argument for the two principles of j u s ­ tice (§25. §40. that the difference principle is not often 51. of significance in itself at the highest level: it enters into whether political society itself is conceived as a fair sys­ tem of social cooperation over time between persons seen as free and equal. T h e idea of equality is. Here w e see how the appropriate concept o f a social minimum depends on the content of the public political culture. followed (with modifications) in justice as fairness: namely. or in some other way. T h e last two ways in which inequality is unjust in itself suggest Rousseau's solution. which in turn depends on how political society itself is conceived by its political conception of justice. 51 It is as equal citizens that we are to have fair access to the fair procedures on which the basic structure relies. a social minimum based on an idea o f reciprocity over one that only covers the human needs essential to a decent human life. T h i s concludes our survey of the two fundamental comparisons. Equality is present at the highest level in that citizens recognize and view one another as equals. Rather. it depends on the fundamental intuitive ideas of person and society in terms of which justice as fairness is laid out.2. T h i s equal relation at the highest level favors. See Rousseau. when life-prospects are in­ volved. Social Contract (1762).1. We have still to take up the second part of the argument when we discuss in Part V the question of the stability o f the well-ordered society of justice as fairness. T h e concept of the appropriate minimum is not given by the basic needs of human na­ ture taken psychologically (or biologically) apart from any particular social world.132 III. a status all have as free and equal persons. though. T h e i r social bond is their public political commitment to preserve the conditions their equal relation requires. THE ORIGINAL POSITION 39. . We should recognize.5). T h e i r being what they are—citi­ zens—includes their being related as equals. the fundamental status in political society is to be equal citizenship. All this enables us to say that in a society well ordered by the principles of justice as fairness. then. citizens are equal at the highest level and in the most fundamental respects. It is from the point of view o f equal citizens that the justification of other inequalities is to be understood. Concluding Remarks 40.

4 we noted that w e should try to present the parties' reasoning in the original position so as to show it to be fully deductive. it may prove to have little support in our pub­ lic political culture at the present time. Nevertheless. a convention no political party normally dares openly to violate. A final comment about method: in §23. Otherwise the original position does not keep track of our assump­ tions and we don't know which ones w e have to justify. are included in the description we gave of it. I think that in some form this idea is essential to democratic equality once we view society as a fair system o f social cooperation between free and equal citizens from one generation to the next. 40. all things tallied up. Unless we can close the list of possible considerations (which we cannot). T h e ideal of rigorous deductive reasoning cannot. while I view the balance o f the reasons as favoring the differ­ ence principle. I believe it worth studying: it has many desirable features and formulates in a simple way an idea o f reciprocity for a political conception of justice. O u r aim is to show that the selection o f the two principles is based on the premises explicidy set out in that description and not on further psychological or other suppo­ sitions. how it encourages the political virtues of mutual trust and cooperation) and not on plain and evi­ dent considerations of greater public g o o d . a kind of moral geometry with all the rigor that name suggests. Concluding Remarks 133 expressly endorsed. even though we grant our reasoning is highly intuitive and falls far short of that ideal. We try to specify an idea of rec­ iprocity appropriate to the relation between citizens as free and equal.40. it remains uncertain h o w the balance would turn out. T h e first reason is that there are indefinitely many considerations that may be appealed to in the original position and each alternative conception ofjustice is favored by some considerations and disfavored by others. however. indeed. including the necessary psychology (beliefs. and special attitudes). T h e best we can do is to say that these are the most im- .2. T h i s idea is more in keeping with the political convention of any reasonably just democratic society. T h i s statement can be misleading unless it is carefully understood: the idea is that all the necessary premises for the argument from the original position. namely. the outcome is certainly less clear and decisive than in the first. From the preceding account of the second fundamental comparison it is evident that. be fully at­ tained. that everyone as a citizen should gain from its policies. T h e argument rests importantly on the great significance of certain features of the public political culture (for example. for at least two reasons. interests.

If a conception seems. Even when judgment is unanimous w e may not be able to articulate our reasons any further. it merely depicts (represents) the outcome of judgments already assumed to be made. and narrowed the disparities between the deeply held conscientious convictions of those w h o affirm the basic principles of demo­ cratic institutions.134 III. . 52 But an indifference curve is merely a representation: it does not ground the balance it depicts in further reasons. Whether such a conception serves its purpose can only be decided by h o w well it identifies the more relevant considerations and helps us to bal­ ance them in the more important particular cases. O f course. nor are they defects. 40. made our considered convic­ tions more coherent. as they lie in the nature of our practical reason.3. w e can draw an indifference curve to depict how we balance reasons. though j u d g m e n t informed and guided by reasoning. and shaping them into a perspicuous view by an organizing fundamental idea within w h i c h other ideas can be seen to fit. as elsewhere. THE ORIGINAL POSITION portant considerations and to trust that those w e have not examined would not upset the balance of these reasons. on due reflection (always the last appeal at any given moment). w e try slowly to build up a reasonable political conception. and w h e n in practice to close the list o f reasons. §7: 33. See the example at Theory. T h e best worked out political conception cannot overcome these limits. its practical aim is achieved. A second reason the ideal cannot be fully attained is that the balance o f reasons itself rests on judgment. By pulling together many smaller and larger points. especially those involving the constitutional essentials and the basic questions of distributive justice. to have cleared our understanding. In political philosophy. we must rely on judgment as to what considerations are more and less significant. 52.

' and the Welfare State. This distinction is not sufficiently noted in Theory. We have completed our initial argument for the two principles of justice as given in the two fundamental comparisons (§§27-33. T h e arguments and suggestions are rough and intuitive. O n e reason for discussing these difficult matters is to bring out the dis­ tinction between a property-owning democracy. Efficiency. ed. which does not. T h i s would require an investigation of social theory we cannot now under­ take. 'PropertyOwning Democracy. which realizes all the main political values expressed by the two principles of justice. Property-Owning Democracy: Introductory Remarks 41.PART IV Institutions of a Just Basic Structure §41.1 now want to survey what would seem to be the main features of a well-or­ dered democratic regime that realizes those principles in its basic institu­ tions. 2 1 - . "Capitalism. and a capitalist welfare state. Allen and Unwin. background justice over time. 2. § § 3 4 4 ° ) . although I make no attempt to show that they will actually do so. Equality. 1964). A n instructive discussion to which I am indebted is that of Richard Krouse and Michael McPherson. and the Ownership of Property (London: G. I outline a family of policies aimed at securing." in Democracy and the Welfare State. We think of such a democracy as an alterna1. 1988). chap. E. Meade. T h e term is from J. 5 tide.1. Amy Gutmann (Princeton: Princeton University Press.

(c) state socialism with a com­ mand economy. Another reason for reviewing these matters is to sketch in more detail the kind of background institutions that seem necessary w h e n we take seriously the idea that society is a fair system of cooperation between free and equal citizens from one generation to the next (§12.2. It is also important to trace out. T h i s is because the idea of reflective equilibrium involves our accepting the implications of ideals and first principles in par­ ticular cases as they arise. T h e problem of corruption is an aspect of this. but we may find that our sentiments prevent us from carrying it out. . different kinds of property ownership and taxation. set Alternatives to Capitalism. Economists call this problem that of incentive-compatibility. (e) liberal (democratic) socialism. O n e is the question of right: that is. 4 3. Let us distinguish five kinds of regime viewed as social systems. (b) welfare-state capitalism. 41. complete with their political.136 3 IV. ed. can be relied on to comply with just institutions and the rules that apply to them in their various offices and p o ­ sitions. We need to do this before we can endorse these princi­ ples. O n reflection we cannot live with it. for example. the institutional content of the two principles of justice. Another is the question of design: that is. We cannot tell solely from the content of a politi­ cal conception—from its principles and ideals—whether it is reasonable for us. and finally. We cannot deal adequately with these intricate questions.Jon Elster and Karl Ove Moene (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Regarding any regime four questions naturally arise. N o t only may our feelings and attitudes as we work through its implica­ tions in practice disclose considerations that its ideals and principles must be revised to accommodate. INSTITUTIONS tive to capitalism. 1989). Finally. in view of their likely interests and ends as shaped by the regime's basic structure. T h i s implies a third question: whether citizens. those concerning public funding o f elections and political campaigns. and my remarks are illustrative and highly tentative. there is the question of competence: whether the tasks assigned to offices and positions would prove simply too difficult for those likely to hold them. (d) property-owning democracy. economic.2). even provisionally. if only in a rough and ready way. whether its institutions are right and just. and social institutions: (a) laissezfaire capitalism. whether a regime's institutions can be effectively designed to realize its declared aims and objectives. For a discussion of other alternatives. O u r survey is brief and most of the questions mentioned are highly controversial. 4.

leaving the others aside. Arrangements should be fully work­ able. it still may fail to d o so. and has no arrangements intended to provide for them. are just and effectively designed basic in­ stitutions that effectively encourage aims and interests necessary to sustain them. of course. from an account o f the political. it seems safe to assume that if a regime does not try to realize certain political values.2. (b) Welfare-state capitalism also rejects the fair value o f the political lib- . which o f the five regimes satisfy the two principles of justice? By the ideal institutional description o f a regime I mean the description of how it works when it is working well. Property-Owning Democracy 137 W h a t we would like. persons should not confront tasks that are too difficult for them or that exceed their powers. criticizing the ineffectiveness o f the socalled welfare state and its tendencies toward waste and corruption. We ask: what kind o f regime and basic structure would be right and just. eco­ nomic. 41. But while a regime may in­ clude institutions explicitly designed to realize certain values.3. §12)) secures only formal equality and rejects both the fair value o f the equal p o ­ litical liberties and fair equality o f opportunity. It aims for economic ef­ ficiency and growth constrained only by a rather low social minimum (The­ ory. But here w e focus largely on the first question o f right and justice. w e see from the ideal description o f the first three kinds o f regimes. could it be effectively and workably maintained? T h i s recog­ nizes that the other questions still have to be faced. (a) Laissez-faire capitalism (the system o f natural liberty (Theory. on meritocracy).4. or practicable. However. that each o f them violates the two principles of justice in at least one way. Here w e assume that if a regime does not aim at certain political values. A regime's ideal description abstracts from its political sociology. and social elements that determine its effectiveness in achieving its public aims. that is. (a) to (c) in 41. it will not in fact d o so. w e can describe a basic structure professedly designed to realize fair equality o f opportunity. that is. §17: 9lf. in accordance with its pub­ lic aims and principles o f design. T h i s assumption granted. then those values will not be realized. 41. Beyond this.41. W h e n a regime works in accordance with its ideal institutional de­ scription. Its basic structure may generate social interests that make it work very differently than its ideal description. but the social interests it generates may make that realization impossible. M u c h conservative thought has focused on the last three questions mentioned above. For example.

for example. w h e n their institutions work as described. w e need not decide between a property-owning democracy and a liberal socialist re­ gime. T h e first principle of justice includes a right to private personal property. a principle o f reciprocity to regulate economic and social inequalities is not recognized. and regulate economic and social inequalities by a principle of mutuality. but this is different from the right of private property in productive assets (§32. . firms under liberal socialism carry on their activities within a system of free and workably competitive markets.1. property-owning democracy and liberal socialism: their ideal descriptions include arrangements designed to satisfy the two principles of justice.2. its o w n workforce. T h i s leaves (d) and (e) above. In contrast with a state socialist command economy. economic power is dispersed among firms. the principles of justice can be realized. if not directly in the hands of. (c) State socialism with a command economy supervised by a one-party regime violates the equal basic rights and liberties. In each case. we suppose that. in the same way that political power is shared among a num­ ber of democratic parties. While under socialism the means of production are owned by society. Free choice of occupation is also assured. as the name "welfare-state capitalism" suggests. A n d although. Both a property-owning democracy and a liberal socialist regime set up a constitutional framework for democratic politics. §42. It permits very large in­ equalities in the ownership of real property (productive assets and natural resources) so that the control of the economy and much of political life rests in few hands. not to mention the fair value of these liberties. the poli­ cies necessary to achieve that are not followed.138 IV. and while it has some concern for equality of opportunity. T o illustrate the content of the two principles of justice. guarantee the ba­ sic liberties with the fair value of the political liberties and fair equality of opportunity.6). A command economy is one that is guided by a gen­ eral economic plan adopted from the center and makes relatively little use of democratic procedures or o f markets (except as rationing devices). if not by the difference principle. Some Basic Contrasts between Regimes 42. welfare provisions may be quite generous and guarantee a decent social minimum covering the basic needs (§38). as when. a firm's direction and management is elected by. 42. INSTITUTIONS erties.

T h e least advantaged are not.4. T h e intent is not simply to assist those w h o lose out through accident or misfortune (al­ though that must be done). and thus to prevent a small part of society from controlling the economy. 5 O n e major difference is this: the background institutions of propertyowning democracy work to disperse the ownership o f wealth and capital. and indirectly. much less our pity—but those to w h o m reciprocity is owed as a matter of political justice among those w h o are free and equal citizens along with everyone else. 42. for example. all this against a background of fair equality of opportunity. Note here two very different conceptions of the aim of the back­ ground adjustments over time. unemployment compensation and 5. Property-owning democracy avoids this. T h i s may tempt us to think they are much the same. education and trained skills) at the beginning of each period. and all should receive certain protections against accident and misfortune. since they both allow private property in productive assets.42. one in which their basic needs are met. if all goes well. they are doing their full share on terms recog­ nized by all as mutually advantageous and consistent with everyone's selfrespect. 42. but rather by ensuring the widespread ownership of productive assets and human capital (that is. not by the redistribution of in­ come to those with less at the end of each period. T h e contrast between a property-owning democracy and welfarestate capitalism deserves closer examination. we look to society's historical cir­ cumstances. As I have said. . to its traditions of political thought and practice. a serious fault of Theory is that it failed to emphasize this contrast. so to speak. and much else. the unfortunate and un­ lucky—objects of our charity and compassion. political life as well. Contrasts between Regimes 139 W h e n a practical decision is to be made between property-owning de­ mocracy and a liberal socialist regime. B y contrast. T h e y are not.3. Although they control fewer resources. but rather to put all citizens in a position to manage their own affairs on a footing of a suitable degree of social and eco­ nomic equality. In welfare-state capitalism the aim is that none should fall below a decent minimum standard of life. Justice as fairness does not decide between these regimes but tries to set out guidelines for h o w the decision can reasonably be approached. welfare-state capitalism per­ mits a small class to have a near monopoly of the means of production.

Ideas of the Good injustice as Fairness 43. Under these conditions we hope that an underclass will not exist. N o w it may seem that the priority of right implies that justice as fairness can use only very thin. those institutions must. including a political conception. This section is drawn from "The Priority of Right and Ideas of the Good.140 IV. O n l y in this way can the basic structure realize pure background procedural justice from one generation to the next. ideas of the good. In what follows we focus on the regime of property-owning democ­ racy and indicate h o w its basic structure tries to meet the two principles of justice. A m o n g these means is human as well as real capital. if not only purely instrumental. and not only of a few. T h a t the right and the good are comple­ mentary is illustrated by this reflection: just institutions and the political virtues would serve no purpose—would have no point—unless those insti6 6. Yet given the lack of background justice and inequalities in income and wealth. if there is a small such class. edu­ cated abilities. and the pri­ ority of right does not deny this. T h i s underclass feels left out and does not participate in the public political culture. any con­ ception of justice." Philosophy and Public Affairs 17 (Fall 1988): 251-276. there may develop a discouraged and depressed underclass many of whose mem­ bers are chronically dependent on welfare. those w h o need assistance can be identified. or perhaps cannot even identify or understand. INSTITUTIONS medical care. Before taking up these more institutional questions. D o i n g this will help us to characterize important aspects of a property-owning democracy. the aim is to realize in the basic institutions the idea of society as a fair system of cooperation between citizens regarded as free and equal. . T h e redistribution of income serves this purpose when. knowledge and an understanding of institutions. But to the contrary: the right and the good are complementary. and trained skills. W h e n society faces this impasse. that it is the result of social conditions we do not know h o w to change. or. reprinted in Collected Papers. however. §43. sufficient productive means for them to be fully cooperating members of society on a footing of equality. T o do this.1. In property-owning democracy. at the end of each period. needs both. it has at least taken seriously the idea of itself as a fair system of cooperation between its citizens as free and equal. that is. put in the hands of citizens generally. we should review the various ideas of the good injustice as fairness as a politi­ cal conception. from the outset. on the other hand.

that conception will lack support and be un­ stable. as opposed to its general. that w h e n consti­ tutional essentials and questions of basic justice are at stake. desires. and in some form it is taken for granted by any political conception of justice. the general meaning of the priority of right is that admissible ideas of the good must fit within its framework as a political conception.43.Ideas of the Good 141 tutions and virtues not only permitted but also sustained conceptions of the good (associated with comprehensive doctrines) that citizens can affirm as worthy of their full allegiance. A conception of political justice must contain within itself sufficient space. Keep in mind that these restrictions are accepted so that justice as fair­ ness can meet the liberal principle of legitimacy: namely. as it were. . If it cannot do this.4). or could be. Injustice as fairness. six ideas of the good appear injustice as fairness: (i) T h e first is that of goodness as rationality.2. the just draws the limit. then. and (2) that they do not presuppose any particular fully (or par­ tially) comprehensive doctrine. we must be able to assume: (l) that the ideas used are. 43. that priority means that only those conceptions of the good are permissible the pursuit of which is compatible with the principles of justice—in the case of justice as fairness. (ii) T h e second idea is that of primary goods (§17). meaning. for ways of life that can gain devoted support. (iii) T h e third idea of the good is that of permissible (complete) concep­ tions of the good (each associated with a comprehensive doctrine) (§17. and final ends) in accor­ dance with the political conception of their status as free and equal per­ sons. T h i s idea assumes that human existence and the fulfillment of basic human needs and purposes are good. with the two principles we have discussed. is to be justifiable to all in terms of their free public reason. the power of free and equal citizens as a collective body. It is designed to go with the aims of justice as fairness as a political conception: it specifies citi­ zens' needs (as opposed to preferences. the exercise of coercive political power. and that rationality is a basic principle of political and social organization. It supposes that citizens have at least an intuitive plan of life in the light of which they schedule their more important endeavors and allocate their various resources so as ratio­ nally to pursue their conceptions of the good over a complete life. Altogether. In a phrase. Given the fact of pluralism. T h e priority of right is sometimes introduced in this connection: in its more specific. shared by citizens generally regarded as free and equal. the good shows the point.

N o w although justice as fairness is perfectly consistent with classical republicanism. the argument from that position gives the two principles of justice." I adopt the meaning of a recognized writer and then stick with it. let us look at the two traditional views o f civic humanism and classical republicanism. and the normal structure o f rational plans o f life). 334f. T h i s makes it a comprehensive philosophical doctrine 7. O n c e w e use these goods to specify the parties' aims in the original position. T h e s e virtues specify the ideal of a good citizen o f a democratic regime. 1985). 7 43. and notes that Kant does not accept it. we get the pri­ mary goods. the general facts o f hu­ man life. §79. INSTITUTIONS (iv) T h e fourth idea o f the good is that o f the political virtues (§33. T h e political good of a well-ordered society we consider in Part V.3). Philosophy and the Human Sciences (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. even politi­ cal. But note here that in showing h o w the preceding four ideas of the good fit within justice as fairness we relied on the fact that those ideas are built up in sequence. T o explain: in the strong sense. it rejects civic humanism. Starting with the idea of goodness as rationality (com­ bined with the political conception of the person. beings whose essential nature is most fully achieved in a democratic so­ ciety in which there is widespread and active participation in political life. 8 . it is consistent with the priority o f right in both its meanings and can be in­ corporated into a political conception of justice.3. pp. In light o f these ideas o f the good. the political vir­ tues are specified as those qualities o f citizens' moral character important in securing a just basic structure over time. See Theory. Permissible (complete) conceptions of the good are those the pursuit of which is compatible with those principles. T h i s participation is encouraged not merely as possibly necessary for the protection of basic liberties but because it is the privileged locus o f our (complete) g o o d .142 IV. T h e r e are two further ideas of the good. There doesn't seem to be a setded meaning for "civic humanism" and "classical re­ publicanism. O n e of these is (v) the idea of the political good o f a society well ordered by the two principles of justice. T h e defini­ tion of civic humanism used in the text is from Charles Taylor. Next. Taylor is discussing Kant and attributes the view to Rousseau. 8. although it is a (partial) conception of moral worth. T h i s is a political ideal but it presupposes no particular comprehensive doctrine and hence. T h e other is (vi) the idea o f the good o f such a society as a social union o f social unions. civic humanism is (by definition) a form o f Aristotelianism: it holds that w e are social.

W h e n politically weaker groups and minorities are denied the franchise and excluded from political office and party politics. taking a continuing and active part in public life generally has. 11. the equal basic liberties need not be equally provided for. Ill. freedom of thought and liberty of conscience (the liberties of the moderns). for most persons. D o not mistake civic humanism (as defined) for the truism that we must live in society to achieve our good. say. and slaves) were excluded? Is it fair to say that as the Athenian ecclesia was an allmale club of the native born. bk. among other things. T h i s suffices to include the political liberties in any fully adequate scheme of basic liberties. a lesser place in the conceptions of the (complete) good of most citizens. A s noted in §32. B y this is meant. taking Athens and Florence as exemplars. often in the form associated historically with the city-state. of course they enjoyed politics as the exercise of their domina­ tion? 10. 43. civic humanism specifies the chief. We do not assert that. *} Rather.4.43.Ideas of the Good 143 and as such incompatible with justice as fairness as a political conception of justice. par. 1 5 . for criticism of this utterly trivial interpretation of human socia­ bility. 9 T h e political liberties can still be counted as basic even if they are only essential institutional means to protect and preserve other basic liberties. Recall the tendency of Rousseau's remarks in the Social Contract. See Theory. chap. or regarded as basic. nor are they all valued for the same reasons. But how far did this depend on the fact that nine-tenths of the population (women. the political liberties are merely instru­ mental: we simply want to allow that not all the basic liberties are valued. if not the sole human good as our engaging in political life. aliens. In a mod­ ern democratic society politics is not the focus of life as it was for nativeborn male citizens in the Athenian city-state. that in a modern democratic society. for the same reasons. 1-4. . and may indeed reasonably have. 11 1 T o reject civic humanism (in the sense defined) is not to deny that one of the great goods of human life is that achieved by citizens through engaging 9. Justice as fairness agrees with the strand of the liberal tradition (represented by Constant and Berlin) that regards the equal political liberties (the liberties of the ancients) as hav­ ing in general less intrinsic value than. they are likely to have their basic rights and liberties restricted if not denied. §79: 458.

to the exclusion o f almost everything else.144 IV. Here there may be differences in weighing competing political values. or pursue narrow class and economic interests. A third term. O f course." means something else again. and the liberalism rep­ resented by Constant and Berlin. is the view that the safety o f democratic liberties. "civic republicanism. .5. If we are to remain free and equal citizens. and h o w the requisite participation is best achieved. The Elements of the Philosophy of Right. Furthermore. 1981). 43. Yet the extent to which we make engaging in political life part of our complete g o o d is up to us as individuals to decide. we cannot afford a general retreat into private life. and indeed. 13. It remains to add that justice as fairness does not deny (any more than Constant or Berlin denies) that some will find. INSTITUTIONS in political life. so understood. See below. 13 T h e idea is that unless there is widespread participation in democratic pol­ itics by a vigorous and informed citizen b o d y moved in good part by a con­ cern for political justice and public good. 12 Citizens' claims in behalf o f the associative goods do not override but must always respect the principles of justice and the freedom and opportunities they guarantee. citizens have a right to leave them unmolested by the coercive pow­ ers of the government. Machiavelli's Discourses is sometimes taken as illustrating classical republicanism as denned in the text. See Quentin Skinner. are the goods achieved in various (nonpolitical) associa­ tions which together constitute civil society. §44. and with justice as fairness as a form thereof. T h i s means that membership in all associations is voluntary at least in this sense: even when born into them. complementing the good of political life. given their gifts 12. on the other hand. but this is importantly a matter of political sociology and institu­ tional design. requires the active participation of citizens w h o have the political virtues needed to sustain a constitutional regime (§33). as in the case of religious tra­ ditions. as Mill and T o c q u e ville emphasized. and reason­ ably varies from person to person. even the best-designed political institutions will eventually fall into the hands of those w h o hunger for power and military glory. in Hegel's sense. n. §§182-256. Classical republicanism. Machiavelli (Oxford: Oxford University Press. Between classical republicanism. for the question is to what degree citizens' engaging in politics is needed for the safety of basic liberties. including the liberties of nonpolitical life (the liberties of the moderns). See Hegel. there is no fundamental opposition. no association comprises all of society. Since classical republicanism does not involve a comprehen­ sive doctrine. it is also fully compatible with political liberalism. 16.

or proposals. Constitutional versus Procedural Democracy 44. A property-owning democracy has been described as a constitu­ tional regime and not as what w e may call a procedural democracy. in the same way that it is generally beneficial for people to develop their different and complementary talents and engage in mutually advantageous schemes o f cooperation.Democracy 145 and aims. 44. for example. and thus a matter o f which is most likely to 15 14. there is no bar to legislation denying freedom o f nonpolitical thought and speech. Here we touch upon a difficult question: the point is that there must be some basic norms in the light of which the actions of this collection of people (the members of parlia­ ment. say) are law. and not as resolutions. provided the appropriate procedures. It is to the g o o d o f society that this be so. thus for them this life is a central part o f their complete good. should find their good importantly in political life. By contrast. 15. what Hart would call "rules of recognition. are followed. or indeed just a rehearsal of a play? A n d so on. these procedures themselves impose no limits on the content of legislation. T h e r e is in effect a constitution (not necessarily written) with a bill o f rights specifying those freedoms and interpreted by the courts as constitutional limits on legislation.44. a procedural democracy is one in which there are no consti­ tutional limits on legislation and whatever a majority (or other plurality) en­ acts is law.1. the set o f rules that iden­ tify law. C a n anything be said in favor o f a constitutional regime over a pro­ cedural democracy? O r is the question o f which is preferable simply a question o f political sociology. Clearly some basic norms are presupposed in any legal system. A con­ stitutional regime is one in which laws and statutes must be consistent with certain fundamental rights and liberties." See his Concept of Law. §79: 4631". forbid the legislature to deny equal political rights to certain groups. for example. chaps. esp. 14 §44. and not something else. While these rules specify the required democratic procedures. those covered b y the first principle of justice. 5-6. See Theory. or denying liberty o f conscience. T h e y d o not. . O r if it is insisted that these political rights are part o f the meaning o f de­ mocracy.2. What identifies these people as members of par­ liament? What identifies these statements as laws. or to limit freedom of thought and speech. T h e idea o f division of labor (rightly viewed) applies here as elsewhere. or the many liberties implicit in the rule of law. such as the writ o f habeas corpus.

such a con­ stitution cannot make it so. we must con­ sider h o w that sociology may be affected by the educational role of a politi­ cal conception of justice such as justice as fairness with its fundamental ideas of person and society. while if a people is not democratic." Yale Law Journal 97 (July 1988): 15391590. then.146 IV. D o i n g this belongs to their con­ ception of themselves as sharing the status of equal citizenship. . the political conception has an educational role. a constitution with a bill of rights is unnecessary. T h e importance of deliberative political discussion is a theme of what is sometimes called "civic republicanism. I n §35 w e noted the three levels of what we called the publicity condition and said that. If disputed judicial decisions—there are bound to be such—call forth deliberative political dis­ cussion in the course of which their merits are reasonably debated in terms of constitutional principles." For an informative discussion of this kind of republicanism. T h o s e w h o grow up in such a society will in good part form their conception of themselves as citi­ zens from the public political culture and from the conceptions of person and society implicit in it. But this latter view overlooks the possibility that certain features o f a political conception importantly affect the political sociology of the basic institutions that realize it. It would seem. may serve a vital educational r o l e . freedoms they can not only claim for themselves but freedoms they must also respect in others. T h e conceptions of person and society are more fully articulated in the public charter of the constitution and more clearly connected with the basic rights and liberties it guarantees. 16. T h e y will see themselves as having certain basic rights and liberties. see Cass Sunstein. w h e n all three levels are achieved in a well-ordered society. by drawing citizens into public debate. INSTITUTIONS result in just legislation given the historical circumstances of a particular people with their traditions of political thought and practice? Some have thought that if a people is truly democratic in spirit. 16 We are led to articulate fundamental political values for ourselves. Citizens acquire an understanding of the public political cul­ ture and its traditions of interpreting basic constitutional values. "Beyond the Republican Revival. then even these disputed decisions. T h e y do so by attending to how these values are interpreted by j u d g e s in important constitutional cases and reaffirmed by political parties. that the political sociology o f a constitutional re­ gime will differ from that of a procedural democracy. More exactly. and so to form a conception of the reasons relevant when the constitutional essentials are at stake.

Fehrenbacher (New York: New American Library. Here the historical conditions of a people become rel­ evant. and the increasing de­ sire to live in unity with others. that the greater ed­ ucational role of a political conception in a constitutional regime may alter its political sociology so as to favor it over procedural democracy. T h a t is. T h e phrase is Ronald Dworkin's in "The Forum of Principle.: Harvard University Press. pp. T h i s embedding is done in various ways: by incorporating the basic rights and liberties that limit legislation into a con­ stitution. 3. following his princi­ ples of justice and liberty is an effective if not the best way to realize those permanent interests. Mill's philos­ ophy. he thinks." in A Matter of Princi­ ple (Cambridge. and by having the judiciary interpret the constitutional force of those freedoms in the first instance.44. T h e unity of Mill's view depends on a few psychological principles. O f course. n ed. individuality. that in the conditions of the modern world. but this does not affect the point at issue: namely. 18. 1964). 44. while the courts' decisions are binding on the present case. Don E. that conception may itself become a significant moral force in a society's public culture. T h e point may be developed this way. But what happens should these psychological principles fail to hold. T o spell this out we need 18 17. S. among them the principles of dignity. it has its dangers: courts may fail in their task and make too many unreasonable decisions not easily corrected.Democracy 17 147 T h i s public forum of principle is a distinctive feature of a constitutional regime with some form of judicial review. Consider J. and while they deserve due respect from other branches of government as precedents. they are not as such binding as gen­ eral political rules. 3 Writings.7? n . Mill connects his conception of utility with the permanent interests of humankind as progressive beings. It is plausible. Mass. T h e idea behind the educational role of a political conception of justice suitable for a constitutional regime is that by being embedded in political institutions and procedures. Mill's principles may seem an excessively optimistic view of our nature. See Abraham Lincoln: A Documentary Portrait through His Speeches and i 8ff. Legislators may leave to courts too many matters that legis­ lation should handle. 88-93. T h e y may legitimately be questioned in the public fo­ rum of principle by citizens and political parties. 1985).3. or should they not be sufficiently strong with respect to other psychological influences? From commonsense knowledge and ordinary experience.

as Mill's does. liberty of conscience and fair equality of opportunity. that the equal liberties in a modern democratic state are in practice merely formal? W h i l e it may appear. Note that these freedoms include those going beyond procedural arrangements of democracy. like justice as fairness. a further reason for this is that w h e n these princi­ ples and ideals are realized. 20. §45. What these might be is suggested by §§13. and so on—social and economic inequalities in background institutions are ordinarily so large that those with greater wealth and position usually control political life and en­ act legislation and social policies that advance their interests. and various elements of the rule of law such as the right of habeas corpus. often made by radical democrats and socialists (and by Marx). which we cannot go into here.148 IV. . Rather. 1975). Norman Daniels (New York: Basic Books. to run for political office and to engage in party politics. for example. T h e Fair Value of the Equal Political Liberties 45. A constitutional regime may be more likely to realize those principles and the ideals of free public reason and deliberative democracy. the idea of the good of political society is also realized in part and is experienced by citizens as such. INSTITUTIONS an account of the appropriate scope and limits of judicial review. A s we shall see in Part V. One main part of this account would be a rendering of the basic constitutional free­ doms that courts should protect. T h e idea of their fair value is in­ troduced in an attempt to answer this question: how shall we meet the fa­ miliar objection. N o w let us turn to the fair value of the equal political liberties that enable citizens to participate in public life. We then conjecture that a basic structure in the public political culture in which these fundamental conceptions and princi­ ples are embedded has a different political sociology than that of a proce­ dural democracy: those conceptions may acquire a significant educational role that fashions an effective political influence on the side of the princi­ ples of justice. and by the way these conceptions are developed to yield cer­ tain principles of justice. that citizens' basic rights and liberties are effectively equal—all have the right to vote. 20 19. for its more specific content on a quite definite human psychology.1. it may have far more definite normative content as expressed by its fundamental conceptions of person and society.30. the objection continues." in Reading Rawls. is clear: the political conception supporting a consti­ tutional regime need not be as general as Mill's conception of utility nor rely.32-33. if only in part. 19 T h e point. This and the next section attempt to meet the kind of objection raised by Norman Daniels in "Equal Liberty and Unequal Worth of Liberty. though. ed. to mention a few important ones.

(ii) W h e n the principles of justice are adopted in the original position. We include in the first principle of justice a proviso that the equal political liberties. are to be guaranteed their fair value (Theory.1 cannot consider here h o w this fair value is best realized in politi­ cal institutions. it is understood that the first principle includes this proviso and that the par­ ties take this into account in their reasoning. is not the same for all (Theory. the assurance o f a more even access to public media. which is estimated by the index of primary goods. T h e s e adjustments cannot be rejected simply because they infringe on the freedoms o f speech and o f the press. the useful­ ness o f these liberties. I simply assume that there are practicable institutional ways of doing this compatible with the central range o f application o f the other basic liberties.2. and so more all-purpose material means for realizing their ends.T o explain: (i) T h i s guarantee means that the worth of the political liberties to all cit­ izens. as well as the use of primary goods.45' Fair Value of Political Liberties 149 T o discuss this question. T h e requirement o f the fair value o f the political liberties. distinguish between the basic liberties and the worth o f these liberties as follows: these liberties are the same for all citi­ zens (are specified in the same way) and the question o f how to compen­ sate for a lesser liberty does not arise. §32: 179). Reforms to that end are likely to involve such things as the public funding o f elections and restrictions on campaign contributions. Here there may arise a conflict o f equally significant basic liberties and some adjustments may need to be made. T o meet that objection justice as fairness treats the political liberties in a special way. nor does it answer the ob­ jection that in a modern democratic state the political liberties may be in practice merely formal. T h e difference principle. and only these liberties. is part o f the meaning o f the two principles of justice. and the like. that is. §36: 1976°. and certain regulations o f freedom of speech and o f the press (but not restrictions affecting the con­ tent o f speech). T h i s idea o f fair opportunity parallels that o f fair equality o f opportunity in the second principle. whatever their economic or social position. Yet some have more income and wealth than others.3.). T h i s distinction between the equal liberties and their worth is sim­ ply a definition. these liberties are no more abso- . 45. maximizes the worth to them o f the equal liberties enjoyed b y all. It settles no important question. in maxi­ mizing the index available to the least advantaged. 45. must be sufficiency equal in the sense that all have a fair opportunity to hold public office and to af­ fect the outcome o f elections. But the worth.

23 22 T h e s e are all important questions and the flourishing of constitutional democracy depends on finding a workable answer to §46. 45. we add the re­ quirement of fair value for the political liberties. those with greater means can combine together and exclude those w h o have less.1. allows the usefulness of the political liberties to be far more subject to citizens' social position and economic means than the usefulness of other basic liberties. 23. as it were. the public facility specified by the constitutional rules and proce­ dures which govern the political process and control the entry into posi­ tions of political authority. n.4. T h e s e rules and procedures are to be a fair pro­ cess. T h e limited space of the public political forum. and of government control and bu­ reaucratic power in a liberal socialist regime. Therefore. See "The Basic Liberties and Their Priority" where Buckley v. them. §31: 1730°. Denial of the Fair Value for Other Basic Liberties 46. (b) Second. Without a guarantee of the fair value of the political liberties. T h e idea o f fair value of the political liberties raises another ques­ tion: namely. 21 In adjust­ ing these basic liberties one aim is to enable legislators and political parties to be independent of large concentrations of private economic and social power in a private-property democracy. T h e difference principle is presumably not sufficient to prevent this. O n the meaning of "civic republicanism" see §44. .150 IV. Note two features of the guarantee of the fair value of the political liberties: (a) First. 72-79. 16. INSTITUTIONS lute than the political liberties with their guaranteed fair value. w h y not secure fair value for all the basic liberties? T h i s pro­ posal of a wide guarantee of fair value for all basic liberties carries the idea 21. it secures for each citizen a fair and roughly equal access to the use of a public facility designed to serve a definite political purpose. T h e valid claims of each citizen are held within certain standard limits by the idea of a fair and equal access to the political process as a public facility. an aim w h i c h (as w e saw in §44) justice as fairness shares with civic republicanism. T h i s is to further the condi­ tions of deliberative democracy and to set the stage for the exercise of pub­ lic reason.2. 22. Theory. Valeo is discussed at pp. this public facility has limited space. so to speak. namely. framed so far as possible to yield just legislation.

Similar consequences follow. (b) If the wider guarantee means that income and wealth are to be dis­ tributed according to the content o f certain interests regarded as central to citizens' plans o f life. T h e idea o f this wide guarantee is. it is irrational: it does not allow society to meet the requirements o f social organization and efficiency. In doing so. For consider how it might be understood: (a) If that guarantee means that income and wealth are to be distributed equally. whenever a political con­ ception makes citizens' basic claims to social resources (the claims to which the difference principle applies) depend on the determinate final ends and loyalties that belong to their complete conception o f the g o o d . then it is so­ cially divisive. T h e latter's religious needs. 24 understood) of all basic liberties will surely lead to deep religious controversy." pp. I think. T o illustrate this point Theory discusses briefly the principle of proportionate satis­ faction at §77: 446f. 46. or superfluous. it is superfluous.46. It seems clear that trying to maintain the equal worth (thus civil strife. 55if. the basis o f social unity is best founded on a public conception of justice that judges citizens' claims to social resources in terms of a partial conception o f the good rooted in a view o f the objective needs of citizens regarded as free and equal. Other Basic Liberties 151 of equality further than the two principles. reprinted in Collected Papers. or socially divisive. A t least with regard to the constitutional essentials. that society is to devote social resources to these citizens rather than to others whose understanding o f their religious duties calls for far fewer material requirements. T o illustrate: some persons may count among their reli­ gious duties going on pilgrimages. then.2. it excludes certain perfectionist values from the family of p o 24. are less. If it means that a certain level o f income and wealth is to be assured to everyone in order to express the ideal o f the equal worth o f the basic liberties. and the allpurpose means needed for a fair opportunity to take advantage o f our basic freedoms. if not Given the fact o f reasonable pluralism. either irrational. given the difference principle. T o guarantee the equal worth o f religious liberty would mean. for example. T h i s leads to the idea o f pri­ mary goods. as it were. A fuller discussion is in "Fairness to Goodness. . justice as fairness rules out claims based on various wants and aims arising from people's different and incommensurable conceptions o f the good. or building magnificent cathedrals or temples. the religious interest. 28if. I believe.

say by the ex­ pected benefits to public health and preserving the environment. imagination. solely on the grounds that their study and practice real­ izes certain great excellences of thought. or to the needs of (justified) national defense. discuss the question further here. political liberalism with its idea of public reason does not rule out as a reason the beauty of nature as such or the good of wildlife achieved by protecting its habitat. INSTITUTIONS litical values in terms of which questions of constitutional essentials and the basic questions of distributive justice are to be settled. and funding museums and public performances. It does not follow that perfectionist values can never be appealed to in any form. 26 T h e main point is that there should be a good-faith commitment not to appeal to them to settle the constitutional es­ sentials and basic matters of justice. or to the arts of painting and music. N o doubt their study does this. 25 but it is far better to justify the use of public funds to support them by reference to political values. a bill may come before the legislature that allots public funds to pre­ serve the beauty of nature in certain places (national parks and wilderness areas). I shall not. After that a democratic electorate may devote large resources to grand projects in art and science if it so chooses. say in suitably circumscribed questions legislators must consider. 26. these matters may appropriately be put to a vote. But a large fraction of the social product for the advancement of mathematics and science re­ quires a basis in advancing the good of citizens generally. With the constitutional essentials all firmly in place. T h e perfectionist idea is that some persons have special claims because their greater gifts enable them to engage in the higher activities that realize perfectionist values. . barring certain severe adverse conse­ quences. Perfectionism in one form holds that these values are so great as to justify society's al­ locating to them whatever is necessary to sustain them. how­ ever. Some public support of art and culture and science.152 IV. Some will find this subordinate place of perfectionist values a serious ob­ jection to political liberalism and its idea of public reason. and feeling. I think this subordinate place is acceptable once we see that the exclusion applies to questions of the consti­ tutional essentials and to basic questions of justice. It also puts in ques­ tion whether society can allocate great public resources to pure science—to mathematics and theoretical physics. or on certain matters of policy. While some arguments in favor may rest on political values. say the benefits of these areas as places of general recreation. For example. say—or to philosophy. is certainly vital to the public political culture: to a society's sense of itself and its history. 25. and an awareness of its political traditions. Fundamental justice must be achieved first.

47* Political and Comprehensive Liberalism

153

§47. Political and Comprehensive Liberalism: A Contrast
47.1. It is a long-standing objection to liberalism that it is hostile to cer­ tain ways o f life and biased in favor o f others; or that it favors the values o f autonomy and individuality and opposes those o f community and o f asso­ ciational allegiance. In reply, observe first that the principles o f any reason­ able political conception must impose restrictions on permissible compre­ hensive views, and the basic institutions those principles require inevitably encourage some ways o f life and discourage others, or even exclude them altogether. T h e substantive question, then, concerns h o w the basic structure (re­ quired by a political conception) encourages and discourages certain com­ prehensive doctrines and their associated values, and whether the way this happens is just. Considering this question will explain the sense in which the state, at least as concerns constitutional essentials, is not to do anything intended to favor any particular comprehensive view. mental.
28 27

A t this point the

contrast between political and comprehensive liberalism is clear and funda­

27. [The aims of the basic institutions and public policy ofjustice as fairness can be said to be neutral with respect to comprehensive doctrines and their associated conceptions of the good. Neutrality of aim means that those institutions and policies are neutral in the sense that they can be endorsed by citizens generally as within the scope of a public political con­ ception. Neutrality of aim contrasts with procedural neutrality, understood by reference to a procedure that can be legitimated, or justified, without appealing to moral values at all, but at most to neutral values such as impartiality, consistency, and the like. Justice as fairness is not procedurally neutral. Clearly, its principles of justice are substantive and express far more than procedural values, as do its political conceptions of society and person, which are represented in the original position. See Political Liberalism, lect. V, §5, esp. 191-192.] 28. T h e next several paragraphs are adapted from my reply in "Fairness to Goodness," §VI, to an objection raised by Thomas Nagel in his review of Theory entitled "Rawls on Justice," Philosophical Review 83 (April 1973): 226-229. In an instructive discussion that I can only briefly summarize here, Nagel argues that the setup of the original position in Theory, although it is ostensibly neutral between different conceptions of the good, is not actually so. He thinks this is because the suppression of knowledge (by the veil of ignorance) required to bring about unanimity is not equally fair to all parties. T h e reason is that pri­ mary goods, on which the parties base .their selection of principles ofjustice, are not equally valuable in pursuit of all conceptions of the good. Moreover, he says that the well-ordered society of justice as fairness has a strong individualistic bias, and one that is arbitrary be­ cause objectivity between conceptions of the good is not established. T h e reply in the text above supplements that in "Fairness to Goodness" in two ways. It makes clear first, that the conception of the person used in arriving at a workable list of primary goods is a political

154

IV.

INSTITUTIONS

47.2. T h e r e are at least two ways in which comprehensive doctrines may be discouraged: those doctrines and their associated ways o f life may be in direct conflict with the principles of justice; or else they may be admissible but fail to gain adherents under the political and social conditions o f a just constitutional regime. T h e first case is illustrated by a conception o f the good requiring the repression or degradation o f certain persons on, say, racial, or ethnic, or perfectionist grounds, for example, slavery in ancient Athens or in the antebellum South. Examples o f the second case may be certain forms o f religion. Suppose that a particular religion, and the con­ ception of the good belonging to it, can survive only if it controls the ma­ chinery o f state and is able to practice effective intolerance. T h i s religion will cease to exist in the well-ordered society o f political liberalism. N o doubt there are such cases; and such doctrines may endure, but always among relatively small segments o f society. T h e question is this: if, in a just constitutional regime, some conceptions will die out and others only barely survive, does this b y itself imply that its political conception of justice fails to be neutral between them? Given the connotations o f "neutral," perhaps it does fail, and this is a difficulty with that term. But the important question surely is whether the political con­ ception is arbitrarily biased against these views, or better, whether it is just or unjust to the persons whose conceptions they are, or might be. Without further explanation, it would not appear to be unjust to them, for social in­ fluences favoring some doctrines over others cannot b e avoided on any view of political justice. N o society can include within itself all ways of life. We may indeed lament the limited space, as it were, o f social worlds, and o f ours in particular; and w e may regret some o f the inevitable effects o f our culture and social structure. A s Isaiah Berlin long maintained (it was one o f his fundamental themes), there is no social world without loss: that is, no social world that does not exclude some ways o f life that realize in special ways certain fundamental values. T h e nature o f its culture and institutions proves too uncongenial.
29

But these inevitable exclusions are not to be mis­

taken for arbitrary bias or for injustice.

conception; and second, that justice as fairness itself is a political conception of justice. Once we understand justice as fairness and the conceptions that belong to it in this way, we can make a more forceful reply to Nagel's objection, provided of course it is accepted that neutrality of influence is impracticable. 2 9 . See Berlin's essay " T h e Pursuit of the Ideal," in The Crooked Timber of Humanity, esp. p p . 1 1 - 1 9 . See also his "Two Concepts of Liberty"(i958), reprinted in Four Essays on Liberty (New York: Oxford University Press, 1 9 6 9 ) , pp. 1 6 7 E A similar view is often attrib-

47- Political and Comprehensive Liberalism

155

47.3. T h e objection must go further and hold that the well-ordered soci­ ety o f political liberalism fails to establish, in ways that existing circum­ stances allow—circumstances that include the fact o f reasonable plural­ ism—a just basic structure within which permissible ways o f life have a fair opportunity to maintain themselves and to gain adherents over generations. But if a comprehensive conception o f the good is unable to endure in a so­ ciety securing the familiar equal basic liberties and mutual toleration, there is no way to preserve it consistent with democratic values as articulated b y the idea o f society as a fair system o f cooperation among citizens viewed as free and equal. T h i s raises, but does not o f course settle, the question o f whether the corresponding way o f life is viable under other historical con­ ditions, and whether its passing is to be regretted.
30

Historical experience shows that many ways of life pass the test of endur­ ing and gaining adherents over time in a democratic society; and if num­ bers are not the measure o f success (and w h y should they be?), many pass that test with equal success: different groups with distinctive traditions and ways o f life find different comprehensive views fully worthy o f their alle-

uted to Max Weber; see for example the essays "Politics as a Vocation" (1918) in From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology, ed. y . H . Gerth and C . Wright Mills (New York: Oxford Univer­ sity Press, 1946); and " T h e Meaning of'Ethical Neutrality' in Sociology and Economics," in Max Weber on the Methodology of the Social Sciences, trans, and ed. Edward A . Shils and Henry A . Finch (New York: Free Press, 1949). However, the differences between Berlin's and Weber's views are marked. I can't go into this here except to say I believe that Weber's view rests on a form of value skepticism and voluntarism; political tragedy arises from the conflict of subjective commitments and resolute wills. Whereas for Berlin the realm of values is objective: the point is rather that the full range of values is too extensive to fit into any one social world. Not only are they incompatible with one another, imposing conflicting require­ ments on institutions despite their being objective; but there exists no family of workable in­ stitutions that can allow sufficient space for them all. That there is no social world without loss is rooted in the nature of values and the world. Much human tragedy reflects that. A just liberal society may have far more space than other social worlds but it can never be without loss. 30. T h u s we may often want to say that the passing of certain ways of life is to be la­ mented. It is too optimistic to say that only unworthy ways of life lose out in a just constitu­ tional regime. It will be objected by those who affirm the conceptions that cannot flourish that political liberalism does not allow sufficient space for them. But there is no criterion for what counts as sufficient space except that of a reasonable and defensible political concep­ tion of justice itself. T h e idea of sufficient space is metaphorical and has no meaning beyond that shown in the range of comprehensive doctrines that the principles of such a conception permit and that citizens can affirm as worthy of their full allegiance. T h e objection may still be raised that the political conception fails to identify the right space, but this is simply the question of which is the most reasonable political conception.

156

IV.

INSTITUTIONS

giance. T h u s whether political liberalism is arbitrarily biased against certain conceptions and in favor o f others turns on whether, given the fact of rea­ sonable pluralism and the other historical conditions o f the modern world, realizing its principles in institutions specifies fair background conditions wherein different conceptions of the good can be affirmed and pursued. Po­ litical liberalism is unjustly biased against certain comprehensive concep­ tions only if, say, individualistic conceptions alone can endure in a liberal society, or they so predominate that associations affirming values of religion or community cannot flourish, and further, if the conditions leading to this outcome are themselves unjust. 47.4. A n example may clarify this point: various religious sects oppose the culture of the modern world and wish to lead their common life apart from its foreign influences. A problem now arises about their children's ed­ ucation and the requirements the state can impose. T h e liberalisms of Kant and Mill may lead to requirements designed to foster the values of auton­ omy and individuality as ideals to govern much if not all of life. But political liberalism has a different aim and requires far less. It will ask that children's education include such things as knowledge of their constitutional and civic rights, so that, for example, they know that liberty of conscience exists in their society and that apostasy is not a legal crime, all this to ensure that their continued religious membership when they come of age is not based simply on ignorance of their basic rights or fear of punishment for offenses that are only considered offenses within their religious sect. T h e i r educa­ tion should also prepare them to be fully cooperating members of society and enable them to be self-supporting; it should also encourage the politi­ cal virtues so that they want to honor the fair terms of social cooperation in their relations with the rest of society. Here it may be objected that requiring children to understand the politi­ cal conception in these ways is in effect, though not in intention, to educate them to a comprehensive liberal conception. D o i n g the one may lead to the other, if only because once we know the one w e may of our o w n accord go on to the other. It must be granted that this may indeed happen in the case of some. A n d certainly there is some resemblance between the values of p o ­ litical liberalism and the values of the comprehensive liberalisms of Kant and M i l l .
31

But the only way this objection can be answered is to set out the

great differences in both scope and generality between political and com-

31. And see Joseph Raz in The Morality of Freedom (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986), esp. chaps. 14 and 15, to mention a contemporary example.

often with regret. A Note on Head Taxes and the Priority of Liberty 48. Karl Marx. I draw on my "Reply to Alexander and Musgrave." 33 If we take this as a precept of justice. to each according to his needs. justice as fairness does not seek to cultivate the distinctive virtues and values of the liberalisms of autonomy and individuality. or indeed of any other comprehensive doctrine. . which he thinks will be satisfied in the final stage of communist society: "From each according to his abilities. pro­ vided only that they acknowledge the principles of the political conception of justice and appreciate its political ideals of person and society. it is fundamental that. I would hope. A brief note on head taxes will help to clarify the priority of liberty as well as the sense in w h i c h the difference principle expresses an agree­ ment to regard the distribution of native endowments as a common asset (§21)32 Recall the precept cited by Marx. 33.1. §48. Justice as fairness honors. however. all this from within a political point of view. and in their developing the political virtues. T h e state's concern with their education lies in their role as future citizens. Critique of the Gotha Program (1873). It is this: there may be no measure of na32. it may seem that the difference principle could satisfy it once society imposed a head tax (lump sum tax) on native endowments and required the better en­ dowed to pay a higher tax. and so in such essential things as their acquiring the capacity to understand the public culture and to participate in its institutions.48. For in that case it ceases to be a form of political liberalism. In this way. as far as it can. Observe here that w e try to answer the question of children's education entirely within the political conception. in their being economically independent and self-sup­ porting members of society over a complete life. the claims of those w h o wish to withdraw from the modern world in accordance with the injunctions of their religion. inequalities in income and wealth in people's life-prospects w o u l d be gready reduced if not eliminated. T h e r e are two decisive objections to this proposal. In meeting the objection that political liberalism is wrongly hostile to certain ways of life and biased in favor of others. T h e first might seem merely practical but it cuts deeper. that the account of political liberalism provides a sufficient reply to the objection." §VII. be­ yond the requirements already described. A Note on Head Taxes 157 prehensive liberalism as I have specified them. T h e unavoidable conse­ quences of reasonable requirements for children's education may have to be accepted.

T h e point is clear and brings out a further aspect in w h i c h our native en­ dowments are ours and not society's: namely. In §§15-16 we noted various reasons for focusing on the basic structure as the primary_subject of justice. it would interfere with their liberty to con­ duct their life within the scope of the principles of justice. A usable measure of native endowments seems out of the question. native endowments such as intelligence and various natural abilities (to sing and to dance) are not fixed assets with constant capacity. It would force the more able into those occupations in w h i c h earnings were high enough for them to pay off the tax in the required period of time. even in theory. the tax is public knowledge and people will have a strong incentive to conceal their endowments. T h e y might have great difficulty practicing their religion. A n d when would that be? Again. it says that to benefit still further from that good fortune we must train and educate our endow­ ments and put them to work in socially useful ways that contribute to the advantages of those w h o have l e s s . T h e y are.2). for example. vocations and occupa­ tions. among w h i c h are the social attitudes directly concerned with their training. as such. once established. however.1. INSTITUTIONS / t i v e endowments (as opposed to realized endowments) sufficiently accurate f for us to have confidence that we can justify such a coercive tax. For our purposes. encouragement. That meaning is not given by taking it in isolation. Moreover. as w e have seen (in §16. 34. that we cannot be subject to a head tax to equalize the advantages our endowments might confer. as well as a strong incentive not to realize them until after the age at w h i c h the tax is imposed. and they might not be able to afford to enter low-paying.158 IV. merely potential. though worthy. the relevant difficulty is that a head tax would violate the priority of liberty. and their actual real­ ization depends on social conditions. We need not review them here. T h a t would violate our basic liberties.2. 34 §49. Economic Institutions of a Property-Owning Democracy 49. Here we see how the meaning of the difference principle is determined in part by its ranking as subordinate to the first principle of justice. 48. and recognition.|The difference principle does not penalize the more able for being fortunately endowecl} Rather. .

between perfectly just schemesjand those Just^ throughout. A s we have said (§18. A propertyowning democracy should allow for this possibility. question. IV. T h e relation between the difference principle and the principle of just saving (Theory. See the distinction at Theory. net real saving may fall to z e r o .\ pectations o f the least advantaged measured in terms of income and wealth. V I . O n c e these conditions a r e r e a c h e d and just institutions established. §44: 251. Permissible inequalities (thus defined) satisfy that condition and are compatible with a social prod35. T h i s T h e principle of just savings addresses this raises a question about h o w far the present generation is b o u n d to respect ^ c ^ more advantaged v^ere less. chap.. 49. bk. 36. §44) is this. ffhe principle of just saving h o l d s ^ e t x y e e n ^ generations. See Mill.the ability to exert advantage of available opportunities. those of the less advantaged would also be lessJjSociety is on the upward-rising part or at the top o f the O P c u r v e . We saw that what the difference principle does require is that d u r i n g an appropriate interval o f time the differences in income and wealth earned in producing the social product be such that if the legitimate expectations f)f ^ 37 p 36 35 and in. Theory. but that is another matter.Economic Institutions 159 but let us recall one main reason: namely. u f society wants to save for reasons other thariju^tke^jLt may of course do so. §13: 68. thatf iPthe basic structure can be effectively regulated by relatively^imple^ jus tice"jo~as t O { ^ a ! n t a l n ) b a c ¥ g r c ^ put i r i a j ^ s i t W i t ^ over t i m e j t h e n ^erhap^jnost things can be^lelDto^citiz^s and associations themselves.49.3). while jhe^diflference^ saving is required only for Reasons of justicej)that is. 37. that w o u l d not be a reasonable conception of j u s ­ tice.2. provided they are o f their own affair> and are able to make fair a g r e e m e n t s ^ i t h one anothei) under social conditions ensuring a suitab^ (je^reej^'^gTlQliHr T V ^ basic structure is to secure citizens' freedom and indevrjgndence^ and continually to^moderate tendencies that lead.^ A feature of the difference principle is that it does not require continuall economic growth over generations to maximize upward indefinitely the e x . to make possible the conditions needed to establish and to preserve a just basic structure over jEu£. over time. to greater inequalities i n / s o ^ ^ politic^Hnfluen^ the claims of its successors. Principles of Political Economy. We certainly do not want to rule out Mill's idea of a society in a just stationary state where (real) capital accumulation may c e a s e . v .

it has certain difficulties. 49. This account of how the just savings principle is derived differs from Theory. INSTITUTIONS uct of a steady-state equilibrium in which a just basic structure is supported and reproduced over time. With a savings principle adopted. In this way w e arrive at a savings principle that grounds our duties to other generations: it sup­ ports legitimate complaints against our predecessors and legitimate expec­ tations about our successors. . so w e say the parties are to agree to a savings principle subject to the condition that they must want all previ­ ous generations to have followed it. which follows a suggestion made to me by Thomas Nagel and Derek Parfit in 1972. There it is not required that the parties must want previous generations to have followed the savings rule they adopt as contemporaries. are to follow it.4. w e proceed as fol­ lows. no matter h o w far back in time. It was stated independendy later by Jane English in her "Justice between Generations. a principle governing savings is required. then. It also changes the motivation assumption (of mutual disinterest) in order to get a savings principle. the question of savings must be dealt with by constraints that hold between citizens as contemporaries. and seems simpler. T h e y are to ask themselves h o w much (what fraction of the social product) they are prepared to save at each level of wealth as society advances. Since society is to be a fair system of cooperation between generations over time.3.2). We must not imagine a (hypothetical and nonhistorical) direct agreement between all generations.160 IV. should all previous generations have followed the same schedule. §44. A s for the adoption of a just savings principle. is one the members o f any generation (and so all generations) would adopt as the principle they would want preceding generations to have followed. Theory as­ sumes they care for their descendants. So taking the parties to be mutually disinter­ ested. A schedule is a rule stating a fraction of social product to be saved at any given level of wealth. the following remarks indicate some of the kinds of taxation by which economic and social background justice might be preserved over time (Theory. consider bequest and inheritance: w e borrow from Mill (and oth38. T o preserve the present-time-of-entry interpretation o f the original position (^25. Since no gen­ eration knows its place among the generations. 39. First. including the present one. this implies that all later generations. §43: 245-249). avoids this. nothing constrains them to make any savings at all. 39 49. 38 T h e correct principle." Philosophical Studies 3i (1977): 98. T o meet this difficulty. While this is not an unreasonable stipulation. T h e account in the text.

that can be adjusted so as to meet the difference principle. once the whole family o f policies is given. A s indicated above. to the fair value o f the political liberties and to fair equality of opportunity. 49. a tax on consumption at a constant marginal rate. but society may publicly aim at its approximate. N o fine-tuning is possible anyway. fair equal- . T h e aim is to encourage a wide and far more equal dispersion of real property and productive assets. then. Such a proportional tax can al­ low for all the usual exemptions. T h e first is whether it requires us. nor need the total given by bequest be limited. given the equal basic liberties (with the fair value of the political liberties). but solely to prevent accumulations of wealth that are j u d g e d to be inimical to background justice. It is possible that there need be no progressive income taxation at all. T h e principle cannot be satisfied exactly.49. T h o s e inheriting and receiving gifts and endowments pay a tax according to the value received and the nature o f the receiver.Economic Institutions 161 ers) the idea of regulating bequest and restricting inheritance. I comment on two worries sometimes raised about the difference principle. roughly be satisfied by raising and lowering this minimum and adjusting the constant marginal rate o f taxa­ tion. T h e above policies involve only various kinds of taxation and so d o not require direct interference by government with individual and associational decisions or particular transactions. the tax can be adjusted to allow for an appropriate social minimum. to con­ sider how it affects the prospects of the least advantaged. T h e difference principle might.if it does require this. People w o u l d be taxed according to h o w much they use o f the goods and services produced and not according to h o w much they con­ tribute ^(an idea that goes back to Hobbes). that is. as w e may call them. Rather the principle of progressive taxation is applied at the re­ ceiver's end. satisfaction. T h i r d . the progressive principle o f taxation might not be applied to wealth and income for the purposes of raising funds (releasing resources to government). T o d o this an estate itself need not be subject to tax. Clearly this difficulty may be pressed against any principle applicable to the basic structure. Second. T h e principle has seemed objectionable to many. or its good-faith. income taxation might be avoided altogether and a proportional expenditure tax adopted instead. say) may be taxed at different rates. Individ­ uals and corporate bodies of certain kinds (educational institutions and museums. B y taxing only total expenditures above a certain income. for example. A useful reply is this: w e are to proceed by selecting a few instruments. on every policy matter.5.

Whether that principle is met requires a full understanding of h o w the economy works and is extremely difficult to settle with any exactness. or lack o f it. D o i n g this frees us from having to consider the difference principle on every question of policy. Accepting this. T h e Family as a Basic Institution 50. perhaps the difference principle can be roughly satisfied by adjusting upward or downward the level o f income ex­ empt from the proportional income tax. For it is reasonably obvious that the difference principle is rather blatantly vio­ lated when that minimum is not guaranteed.3-4. 40 §50. of a constitutional essential should be fairly obvious. Here that level serves as the instru­ ment. T h e aims o f the following comments about the family are modest: they merely indicate w h y the principles of justice apply to the family. for this risks making it a constitutional essential w h i c h the courts are to interpret and enforce.1. INSTITUTIONS ity of opportunity.162 IV. but they do not indicate in any detail what those principles require. or at any rate. Recall that a political society is always regarded as a scheme of c o o p ­ eration over time indefinitely. Before do­ ing this. and this task is not one they can perform well. See also his "Welfare Rights in a Constitutional Democracy. if there is sufficient agreement on the principle. W h a t should be a constitutional essential is an assurance of a social mini­ mum covering at least the basic human needs. It seems that it should not. the reason being that one o f its essential roles is to establish the orderly production and reproduction of society and of its culture from one generation to the next. This endorses Frank Michelman's view in his discussion "The Supreme Court. T h i s meets the desideratum that the fulfillment. as specified in §38." Harvard Law Review 83 (1969): 7-59. it might be accepted as one of society's political aspirations in a preamble that lacks legal force (as with the U . Reproductive labor is socially necessary labor. A second worry is whether the fulfillment of the difference principle should be affirmed in a society's constitution. a matter open to public view that courts should be reasonably competent to assess. S . . essential to 40." Washington University Law Quarterly (1979): 659-693. Still. the idea of a future time when its affairs are to be w o u n d up and society disbanded is foreign to our conception of society. I comment that the family is part of the basic structure. Consti­ tution). 1968 Term—Foreword: O n Protecting the Poor through the Fourteenth Amendment. al­ though it may often be clear that it is not satisfied. and the like.

Gender. T h e family imposes con­ straints on ways in w h i c h this can be done. they are.See Theory.2. including efforts to achieve fair equality of opportunity.50. ensuring their moral development and education into the wider culture. no particular form o f the family (monogamous. and the Family (New York: Basic Books. 44 43 50. T h u s . fully admissible. 41 Citizens must have a sense ofjustice and the political virtues that support just political and social institutions. cet­ eris paribus. Theory. it may be asked 41. It may be thought that the principles of justice d o not apply to the family and that therefore they cannot secure equal justice for w o m e n and their children. Justice. 44. Some think that the lexical priority of fair equality of opportunity over the difference principle is too strong. 45 T h i s is a misconception. the family among them. those with lesser opportunity can accept more easily the constraints the family and other social conditions i m p o s e . At present I do not know what is best here and simply register my uncertainty. 45. for w h e n it is met. or otherwise) is so far required by a political conception of j u s ­ tice so long as it is arranged to fulfill these tasks effectively and does not run afoul o f other political values. More­ over. 43. 1 cannot pursue these complexities here. the family must fulfill this role in appropriate numbers to maintain an enduring society. Here the difference principle is relevant. and how they affect the family. 42 T h e s e necessities limit all arrangements of the basic structure. and that either a weaker priority or a weaker form of the opportunity principle would be better. but they are not to apply directly to the internal life o f the many associations within it. 5> -g-> PP. Still. It may arise as follows: the pri­ mary subject of justice is the basic structure of society understood as the ar­ rangement of society's main institutions into a unified system of social co­ operation over time. chap. See Susan Moller Okin. The Family 163 the role of the family is the arrangement in a reasonable and effective way of the raising and caring for children. How to specify and weight the opportunity principle is a matter of great difficulty and some such alternative may well be better. and the two principles are stated to try to take those constraints into account.90-93e . Note that this observation sets the way in which justice as fairness deals with the question of gay and lesbian rights and duties. and indeed more in accord with fundamental ideas of justice as fairness itself. het­ erosexual. 1989). §§70-76. T h e principles of political justice are to apply directly to this structure. If these rights and duties are consistent with orderly family life and the education of children. §77: 448. but assume that as chil­ dren w e grow u p in a small intimate group in which elders (normally our parents) have a certain moral and social authority. 42.

3. by specifying the basic claims o f equal citizens w h o are mem­ bers of families.2). A s we saw (§4. O n the other hand. In each case. Since wives are equally citizens with their husbands. but it needs further discus­ sion. and this. public law does not recognize heresy and apostasy as crimes. together with the correct application o f the other prin­ ciples of justice. business firms and labor unions. nor are the benefits at­ tached to a church's hierarchy of offices to satisfy the difference principle. Bishops and cardinals need not be elected. 50. if those principles do not apply directly to the internal life o f families. they have all the same basic rights and liberties and fair opportunities as their husbands. churches cannot practice effective intolerance since.164 IV. INSTITUTIONS how. al­ though the principles of justice do not apply directly to the internal life o f churches. they do protect the rights and liberties of their members by the constraints to w h i c h all churches and associations are subject. T h i s illustrates h o w the principles o f political justice do not apply directly to the internal life of a church. given the nature and role of the association. T h e family as part of the basic structure cannot violate these freedoms. whether they be churches and universities. as the princi­ ples of justice require. should suffice to secure their equality and independence. professional and scientific asso­ ciations. and its members are always at liberty to leave their faith. what is the appropriate conception is a separate and additional question. T o illustrate: it is clear that the two principles of justice (as with other liberal principles) do not require ecclesiastical governance to be dem­ ocratic. We mentioned this question earlier (§4. as I have said.2). . T h u s . N o w consider again the family. Note that much the same question arises in regard to all associations. Yet these conceptions o f justice are not political conceptions. the principles o f political justice do impose certain essential constraints that bear on ecclesiastical governance. T h e family is not peculiar in this respect. group. or consistent with liberty of conscience or freedom of association. T h i s is not to deny that there are appropriate conceptions of justice that apply directly to most if not all associations and groups. or relation at hand. to be considered anew in any particular instance. as well as to the various kinds o f relationships among individuals. that they should. nor is it desirable. T h i s they do. Here the formula is the same: politi­ cal principles do not apply directly to its internal life but they do impose essential constraints on the family as an institution and guarantee the basic rights and liberties and fair opportunities o f all its members. they can ensure equal justice for wives along with their husbands.

and much else. 1982). He imagines that past good feelings are replaced by an unexceptionable integrity and judiciousness. for example. or singling out the first son or daughter as always especially favored. 48." in the Canadian Journal of Philosophy 22 (June 1992): 263-286. 33. so that the good of justice is realized within their household. that primogeniture. Here again w e see the need for the division o f labor between different kinds o f principles. 47. Suppose. dutifully if sullenly. be a vital part o f family law. but. 48 Beyond the above considerations founded on the equality of women. Gender.§0. w e distinguish between the point o f view of people as citizens and their point o f view as members o f families and o f other associations. T h e affections and openness of previous times give way to the demands of fairness and rights. and Family. within certain limits. Michael Sandel. "Okin on Justice. A s we have 46. See his review. O f course. T h e fundamental role of basic justice must not be taken for more than it is. Cer­ tainly parents should follow some conception of justice (or fairness) and due respect in regard to each o f their children. on p. Yet such a conception—usually a different one for each kind of association—is necessary. the principles of justice also impose constraints on the family on behalf o f chil­ dren w h o are society's future citizens and have claims as such. in his Liberalism and the Limits of Justice (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. while as members o f associations w e have reasons for limiting those constraints so that they leave room for a free and flourishing internal life appropriate to the association in question. We wouldn't want political principles of justice to apply directly to the internal life o f the family. Another mistake is that he seems to take justice as fairness as saying that the establish­ ment of full justice would restore the moral character of the family. whereas they hold only for the basic struc­ ture. . The Family 165 T o put the point another way. abide by the two principles of jus­ tice. to restore the moral character of the family. T h e n it should be reconsidered. justice as fair­ ness does not say. A s citizens w e have reasons to impose the constraints specified by the political principles o f justice on associations. the prohibition o f abuses and the neglect o f children. It is hardly sensible that as parents w e be required to treat our children in accor­ dance with political principles. But at some point society has to trust to the natural affection and goodwill o f parents. as constraints. considers the situation in which the harmonious family comes to be wrought with dissension. T h e point here is that the treatment of children must be such as to support the fam­ ily's role in upholding a constitutional regime." One mistake here is that he supposes the two principles to hold generally for all associations. as for other associations and cases of local justice. so that no injustice prevails. Here those principles are out of place. T h i s last. will. Some conception ofjustice is indeed viewed as appropriate for the family. but by no means sufficient. I borrow this thought from Joshua Cohen. "Parents and children reflectively equilibriate. and even manage to achieve the conditions of stability and congruence. were to undercut the fam­ ily's role in that respect. 47 46 this is not for political principles to prescribe.

166

IV.

INSTITUTIONS

noted, a long and historic injustice to women is that they have borne, and continue to bear, a disproportionate share of the task of raising, nurturing, and caring for their children. W h e n they are even further disadvantaged by the law of divorce, this burden makes them highly vulnerable.
49

T h e s e in­

justices bear harshly not only on women but also on their children and they tend to undermine children's capacity to acquire the political virtues re­ quired o f future citizens in a viable democratic regime.
50

Mill held that the
51

family in his day was a school for male despotism: it inculcated habits of thought and ways of feeling and conduct incompatible with democracy. reform it. 50.4. T h u s , w h e n political liberalism distinguishes between political j u s ­ tice that applies to the basic structure and other conceptions of justice that apply to the various associations within that structure, it does not regard the political and the nonpolitical domains as two separate, disconnected spaces, as it were, each governed solely by its own distinct principles. Even if the basic structure alone is the primary subject of justice, principles o f justice still put essential restrictions on the family and all other associations. T h e adult members of families and other associations are equal citizens first: that is their basic position. N o institution or association in which they are involved can violate their rights as citizens. A domain so-called, or a sphere of life, is not, then, something already given apart from principles of justice. A domain is not a kind of space, or place, but rather is simply the result, or upshot, of how the principles of po­ litical justice are applied, directly to the basic structure and indirectly to the associations within it. T h e principles defining the equal basic liberties and fair opportunities of citizens always hold in and through all so-called do­ mains. T h e equal rights of women and the claims of their children as future citizens are inalienable and protect them wherever they are. A n d as we have seen, gender distinctions limiting those rights and liberties are excluded (§18.4-6). So the spheres of the political and the public, and of the notpublic and the private, take their shape from the content and application of the conception o f justice and its principles. If the so-called private sphere is a space alleged to be exempt from justice, then there is no such thing. If so, the principles of justice enjoining democracy can plainly be invoked to

49. See Okin's discussion, Justice, Gender, and the Family, chap. 7. 50. O n these virtues, see Part V, §§57, 59. 51. J. S. Mill, 7 7 ^ Subjection of Women (1868), in Collected Works, vol. X X I , chap. 2.

50. The Family

167

50.5. More generally, since property-owning democracy aims for full equality of women, it must include arrangements to achieve that. If a basic, if not the main, cause o f women's inequality is their greater share in the bearing, nurturing, and caring for children in the traditional division o f la­ bor within the family, steps need to be taken either to equalize their share or to compensate them for it. H o w best to d o this in particular historical con­ ditions is not for political philosophy to decide. But a n o w common pro­ posal is that as a norm or guideline, the law should count a wife's work in raising children (when she bears that burden as is still common) as entitling her to an equal share in the income her husband earns during their mar­ riage. Should there be a divorce, she should have an equal share in the in­ creased value o f the family's assets during that time.
52

A n y departure from this norm would require a special and clear justifica­ tion. It seems intolerable that a husband may depart the family, taking his earning power with him and leaving his wife and children far less advan­ taged than before. Forced to fend for themselves, their economic position is often precarious. A society that permits this does not care about women, much less about their equality, or even about their children w h o are its fu­ ture. Indeed, is it a political society at a l l ?
53

50.6. O k i n in her critical though not unsympathetic discussion o f The­ ory has said that there is implicit in it a potential critique o f the family and gender-structured social institutions. T h i s critique can be developed, she thinks, first, from the fact that the parties in the original position d o not know the sex o f those they represent; and second, from the fact that the family and the gender system, as part o f the basic structure, are to be sub­ j e c t to the scrutiny of its principles.
54

I should like to think that Okin is right. T h e crucial question may be: what precisely is covered b y gender-structured institutions? H o w are their lines drawn? If we say the gender system includes whatever social arrange­ ments adversely affect the equal basic liberties and opportunities of women, as well as o f those o f their children as future citizens, then surely that sys-

52. For an instructive discussion of this proposal and other related questions concerning the equality of women, see Okin, Justice, Gender, and the Family, chaps. 7 - 8 . 5 3 . I have in mind here the fact that a political society is a system of cooperation from one generation to the next. Note that in the text I have assumed that the traditional division of labor in the family is common and have addressed only that situation in order to indicate what the principles ofjustice seem to require. 54. Okin, Justice, Gender, and the Family, pp. 101,105.

168

IV.

INSTITUTIONS

tern is subject to critique by the principles ofjustice. T h e question then be­ comes whether the fulfillment of these principles suffices to remedy the sys­ tem's faults. T h i s depends in part on social theory and human psychology, and much else. It cannot be settled by a conception of justice alone and I shall not try to reflect further on the matter here. I conclude by remarking that I have appealed to only a few values of public reason covered by the political conception of justice. A m o n g these values are the equality of women, the equality of children as future citizens, and finally, the value o f the family in securing the orderly production and reproduction of society and of its culture from one generation to the next, and so in a just democratic society, its value in cultivating and encouraging the attitudes and virtues supporting such institutions. In other cases, fur­ ther political values can be appealed to.

§51. T h e Flexibility of an Index of Primary Goods
51.1. In order to illustrate the practical use of an index of primary goods and the flexibility such an index provides, I discuss in some detail an objec­ tion Sen has raised to such an index: namely, that it is bound to be too in­ flexible to be fair. Discussing this will clarify the idea of primary goods by noting their connection with Sen's important idea that interpersonal com­ parisons must be based, in part at least, on a measure of what he calls a per­ son's "basic capabilities." Sen's objection rests on two points. T h e first is that to use an index of these goods is, in effect, to work in the wrong space, and so involves a mis­ leading metric: that is, primary goods themselves should not be viewed as the embodiment of advantage, since in fact advantage depends on a relation between persons and goods. A n acceptable basis of interpersonal compari­ sons, the objection continues, must rest, at least in good part, on a measure of a person's basic capabilities. T o explain: Sen holds that utilitarianism is mistaken in viewing goods solely as satisfying individuals' desires and preferences. H e thinks that the relation of goods to basic capabilities is also essential: goods make it possi­ ble for us to do certain basic things, for example, dressing and feeding our55. Sen's objection was first stated in "Equality of What?" Tanner Lectures on Human Values, vol. 1 (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1979), reprinted in Choice, Welfare, and Measurement (Cambridge, Mass.: M I T Press, 1982), pp. 365-366. This objection is fur­ ther elaborated in his Inequality Reexamined (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1992); see especially chap. 5.
55

5i. Flexibility of an Index of Primary Goods

169

selves, moving from place to place unassisted, holding a position or pursu­ ing an occupation, and taking part in politics and the public life o f our community. B y abstracting from the relation o f goods to basic capabilities and focusing on primary goods, Sen thinks an index o f primary goods fo­ cuses on the wrong thing. 51.2. In reply, it should be stressed that the account o f primary goods does take into account, and does not abstract from, basic capabilities: namely, the capabilities o f citizens as free and equal persons in virtue o f their two moral powers. It is these powers that enable them to be normal and fully cooperating members o f society over a complete life and to main­ tain their status as free and equal citizens. We rely on a conception o f citi­ zens' capabilities and basic needs, and the equal rights and liberties are specified with these moral powers in mind. A s w e have seen (§32), those rights and liberties are essential conditions for the adequate development and full exercise o f those powers in certain fundamental cases o f great sig­ nificance. We say: (i) T h e equal political liberties, and freedom o f speech and freedom of assembly and the like, are necessary for the development and exercise o f citizens' sense of justice and are required if citizens are to make rational judgments in the adoption of just political aims and in the pursuit of effec­ tive social policies. (ii) T h e equal civil liberties, liberty of conscience and freedom of associ­ ation, and free choice o f occupation and the like, are necessary for the de­ velopment and exercise o f citizens' capacity for a conception o f the good: that is, the capacity to form, to revise and rationally to pursue what one views as worthwhile in human life, as understood in the light o f a (fully or partially) comprehensive religious, philosophical, or moral doctrine. (iii) Income and wealth are general all-purpose means required to achieve a wide range o f (permissible) ends, whatever they may be, and in particular, the end o f realizing the two moral powers and advancing the ends o f the (complete) conceptions o f the good that citizens affirm or adopt. T h e s e remarks locate the role of primary goods within the framework o f justice as fairness as a whole. Attending to this framework, w e see that it does recognize the fundamental relation between primary goods and per­ sons' basic capabilities. In fact, the index o f those goods is drawn u p by asking what things, given the basic capabilities included in the (normative) conception of citizens as free and equal, are required by citizens to maintain

the range o f differences in citizens' needs and requirements compatible with everyone's being a normal and cooperat­ ing member o f society. the capacity to be impartial and to take a wider and more inclusive view. S o far. I shall try to show that in drawing u p an index o f primary goods we have considerable flexibility. considerable variation in the capacity for those virtues. 3 6 8 . Since the parties know that an index of primary goods is part o f the principles of justice.170 IV. 51. "Equality of What?" in Choice. T h e two principles o f justice incorporate the concept o f pure back5 6 . at least in many instances. we have made an important background assumption: namely. both within what I shall call the normal range. Sen might accept the use o f primary goods. 56 H i s objection rests on the further point that the relevant needs and requirements o f normal and fully cooperating members o f society are in fact sufficiently different so that the two principles of justice with an index o f primary goods are bound to be too inflexible to yield a fair way o f adjusting to these differences. that with respect to the kinds o f needs and requirements that political j u s ­ tice should take into account. that is. let's suppose. I consider instead only two kinds o f cases. as well as a certain sensitivity to the concerns and circum­ stances o f others. T o begin. 51. fully cooperating members of society. included in their meaning. For example. p. and Measurement. citizens' needs and requirements are suf­ ficiently similar for an index of primary goods to serve as a suitable and fair basis for interpersonal comparisons in matters of political justice. T h e s e powers involve intellect and imagination. INSTITUTIONS their status as free and equal and to be normal.4. they will not accept those principles unless that index secures what they think is required to protect the essential interests o f the persons they represent.3. I put aside the more extreme cases o f persons with such grave disabilities that they can never be normal contributing members o f social cooperation. If this background assumption does indeed hold. T h e y will illustrate the flexibility o f the two princi­ ples in dealing with those differences. In re­ ply. T h e first kind o f case concerns the differences in the development and exercise o f the two moral powers and in realized native endowments. differences above the minimum essentials required to be a fully cooperating member o f society. . See Sen. Welfare. the judicial virtues are excellences o f the moral power o f a sense of justice and there is.

(These last remarks assume a more or less well-or­ dered society. T h e dif­ ferences in citizens' moral powers d o not. and all are covered by the guarantees o f the difference principle.5.5i. T h e claim of justice as fairness is that in a well-ordered society such an ongoing social process would not lead to political injustice.) But the particular distribution that results does not come about b y fol­ lowing principles of justice (either allocative or procedural) that use a mea­ sure o f basic capabilities. 51. a greater chance o f holding positions of authority with the responsibilities that call for the exer­ cise o f those virtues. O f course. other things equal. It is left to citizens as free and equal persons. as always w e work within ideal theory. may be differently rewarded depending on the plans they make and on what they d o . the differences in cit­ izens' needs for medical care. Flexibility of an Index of Primary Goods 171 ground procedural justice and not that of allocative justice (§14). the basic structure is arranged to include the requisite institutions of background justice so that citizens have available to them the general all-purpose means to train and educate their basic capabilities. Injustice as fairness. All still have the same basic rights and liberties and fair opportunities. Consider the differences in the capacity for the judicial virtues men­ tioned above: within the normal range. properly trained and exercised. A scientific (as opposed to a normative) measure of the full range of these capabilities is impossible as a matter of practice. they may have higher expec­ tations of primary goods. se­ cure in their basic rights and liberties and able to take charge o f their o w n life. to avail themselves of the opportunities guaranteed to all on a fair basis. O v e r the course o f a life.1 n o w turn to the second kind of case. namely. lead to corresponding differences in the allocation o f primary goods. no differences in basic capabilities (within the normal range) affect persons' equal basic rights and liberties. But. Rather. T h e s e cases are characterized as ones in which citizens fall temporarily—for a period o f time—below the minimum essential capacities for being normal and fully cooperating members o f so- . provided their capabilities lie within the normal range. unless otherwise noted. as always. and their greater capacities. those with a greater capacity for the judicial virtues have. adjusting to these differences in capabilities proceeds b y way o f an ongoing social process of pure back­ ground procedural justice in which qualifications suitable for particular of­ fices and positions play a distributive role. including the basic rights and liberties. these differences d o not affect the way the two principles apply to citizens as free and equal. and a fair opportunity to make good use o f them. as such. if not theoretically as well.

as in the case of health care. and the other primary goods. In making this extension we rely on three features of the index of pri­ mary goods that give the two principles of justice a certain flexibility in ad­ justing to the differences among citizens in their need for medical care. Second. But I hope that justice as fairness can not only help with that question but also be extended to cover differences in need to which illness and accident give rise. over income and wealth not only as individuals but also as members of associations and groups. and judicial stages as more information is made available. Members of a religious sect have some control over church property. these goods are not specified in full detail by considerations avail­ able in the original position. A s a first step in working out a conception of political justice w e may abstract entirely (as we have done) from illness and accident. or of its providing public goods (in the economist's sense). and view the fundamental question of political justice as simply that of specifying the fair terms of cooperation between citizens as free and equal. First. T h e s e expectations are viewed as 5 7 . or par­ tial control. the primary goods of income and wealth are not to be identified only with personal income and private wealth. we must make their special role and central range of application sufficiently clear so that at each later stage the process of specification is guided in a suitable way. and the like). that in the original position the general form and content of the basic rights and liberties can be outlined and the grounds of their priority understood. INSTITUTIONS ciety. These points are made in my "Fairness to Goodness. . legislative. and particular social conditions can be taken into account. It suffices. members of a faculty have some con­ trol over a university's wealth viewed as a means for carrying out their aims of scholarship and research. T h i s is obvious with respect to both the basic rights and liberties.172 IV. the index of primary goods is an index of expectations of these goods over the course of a complete life. T o at­ tempt this extension we interpret the assumption that citizens are normally cooperating members o f society over a complete life to allow that they may be seriously ill or suffer from severe accidents from time to time. In outlining the general form and content of basic rights and liberties. T h e further specification of those rights and liberties is left to the constitu­ tional." §111. as in the case of measures ensuring public health (clean air and unpolluted water. 57 T h i r d . For we have control. All of these items can (if nec­ essary) be included in the index of primary g o o d s . A s citizens we are also the beneficiaries of the government's providing various personal goods and services to which we are entitled. for example.

let us focus on the least-advan­ taged group and assume that information is available concerning its mem­ bers' likely medical needs in the aggregate and the cost o f covering them at various levels o f treatment and care. not to mention the . Since the index o f primary goods is specified in terms o f expectations. since the practicable application o f the two principles to this case depends in part on informa­ tion about the prevalence o f various illnesses and their severity. T h i s reasoning parallels that in fixing a social minimum (Theory. while the goods they actually receive are different ex post. T h i s en­ ables the two principles to allow for differences in need arising from illness and accident over the normal course o f a complete life. provisions can be made for covering these needs u p to the point where further provision would lower the expectations o f the least advan­ taged. the same expectations ex ante are compatible with widely divergent benefits received depending on differences in need ex post. Individuals' expec­ tations o f primary goods (their index) can be the same ex ante. O n c e again. Observe that what sets an upper bound to the fraction of the social prod­ uct spent on medical and health needs are the other essential expenditures society must make. and hence the policies to protect public health and to provide medical care can be taken u p there. chil­ dren must be raised and properly educated. Given this background.51. 51. T h i s matter is to be decided at the legislative stage (Theory.). part o f the annual product must be invested in real capital and another part counted as depreciation. Flexibility of an Index of Primary Goods 173 attached to the relevant social positions within the basic structure. A t the legislative stage this information is available. For example. Within the guidelines o f the difference principle. an active and productive workforce must be sustained. depending on the various contingencies—in this case. For simplicity. §31) and not in the original position or constitutional convention. whether these are paid for by private or public funds.6. and much else. on the illnesses and accidents that befall them. T h e only difference is that n o w the expectation o f an assured provision o f health care at a certain level (calculated by estimated cost) is included as part o f that minimum. and provision must be made for those w h o are retired. considerable flexibility in adjusting to citizens' various needs is a feature o f the two principles of justice. the fre­ quency of accidents and their causes. §44: 25if. I indicate—here I cannot d o more than that—how the two principles apply to the medical and health needs o f citi­ zens as normal cooperating members o f society whose capacities for a time fall below the minimum.

Such care falls under the general means necessary to underwrite fair equality of opportunity and our capacity to take advantage of our basic rights and liberties. But the representatives of citizens must view all the various claims mentioned above—including those we make in all phases of life from childhood to old age—from the point of view of one person w h o is to live through all phases of life. is not offhand a need at all. is to meet the needs and require­ ments of citizens as free and equal. T h e idea is that the claims of those in each phase derive from how we would reasonably bal­ ance those claims once w e viewed ourselves as living through all phases of life. treatment that restores persons to good health. the urgency specified by the principle of fair equality of op­ portunity. regarding the first. to specify the relative priority of claims o f medical care and public health generally with respect to other social needs and requirements. T h u s . T h e i r representatives at the legislative stage must consider how the two principles are to be further specified given the general information now available. T o the contrary: as already emphasized. T h e representatives of citizens w h o view these claims from the point of view of the legislative stage must strike a balance between them in allocating society's resources. to estimate the urgency of different kinds of medical care. provision for med­ ical care. Here we see the great significance of regarding citizens as having a pub­ lic (political) identity over a complete life. O f course. and second. regarding citizens in this way does not single out a precise answer. as with primary goods generally. T h i s conception of citizens enables us to do two things: first. T h i s may give the mistaken impres­ sion that provision of medical care is merely to supplement the income of the least advantaged when they cannot cover the costs of the medical care they may prefer. enabling them to resume their normal lives as cooperating members of society. and viewing them as normal and fully cooperating members of society over that life. B y regarding the strength of claims to medical care as tied to maintaining our capacity to be a normal member of society and restoring that capacity once it falls below the minimum required. say. T h e preceding comments view the question of medical care under the guidelines of the difference principle. A s always we have at best only guidelines for deliberation.174 IV. has great urgency— more exactly. INSTITUTIONS requirements of national defense and a (just) foreign policy in a world of nation-states. a guideline is provided (as the preced­ ing discussion outlines) for balancing the costs o f such care against the . whereas cosmetic medicine. and thus to be normal and fully cooperating members of society over a complete life.

however. which enables us to ignore differences in capabilities and endowments above the minimum. Here we rely on the fact that the index of primary goods is to be more definitely specified at the legislative stage and. T h e second kind of case involves those in which because of illness and accident citizens fall for a time below the minimum essentials. In this kind o f case. I shall not. For an instructive discussion. in terms of expectations. T h e first case concerns differences among citizens' capabilities within the normal range but above the minimum essentials required to be a fully cooperating mem­ ber of society. "Health-Care Needs and Distrib­ utive Justice. or in an appro­ priate way to make good. . See chaps. T h i s ac­ cords with Sen's view that basic capabilities must be taken into account not only in making interpersonal comparisons but in laying out a reasonable political conception of justice." Philosophy and Public Affairs 10 (Spring 1981): 146-179.7. as always. nor does a workable measure seem possible. T h e s e differences are accommodated by an ongoing social process of pure background procedural justice. we must distinguish between two kinds of cases. our capabilities w h e n by illness and accident we fall below the minimum and are unable to play our part in society. among the most im­ portant being the two moral powers. This is worked out further in Daniels's Just Health Care (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1-3. I have made two main points: First. 1985). pursue further these difficult and complicated matters. that the idea of primary goods is closely connected with the con­ ception of citizens as having certain basic capabilities. Flexibility of an Index of Primary Goods 175 other claims on the social product covered by the two principles of jus­ tice. T o conclude: In reply to the objection that an index o f primary goods is too inflexible to be fair. T h i s rather simple distinction between the two cases—of differences above and below the minimum essentials—is an example of the kind of 58.5J. Important here is the use of the concep­ tion of the citizen as a cooperating member of society over a complete life. Second. no measure of citizens' differences in capabilities is necessary. W h a t those goods are depends on the fundamental intuitive idea of citizens as persons with those powers. T h e s e fea­ tures allow it to be flexible enough to meet differences in medical needs arising from illness and accident. and with a higher-order interest in their development and exercise. see Norman Daniels. that in order to show the flexibility allowed by the use of pri­ mary goods. T h a t conception directs us to restore. 58 51.

arid if not. At some point. namely. It is premature to consider these matters here.176 IV. we must see whether justice as fairness can be extended to provide guidelines for these cases. and to keep in touch with common sense. I believe. 59 51. I take it as obvious. but this is not to deny their impor­ tance. vital to any political conception that has some chance o f being the focus of an overlapping consensus in a demo­ cratic regime. with certain adjustments. since such firms are not owned or controlled by the state. O u r aim is to avoid difficulties.3). If Sen can work out a plausible view for these. A method enabling us to discuss this question in a manageable way is surely worth looking for. whether it must be rejected rather than supplemented by some other conception. We come to this n o w in our brief compar­ ison with Marx. Included among them are other important arrange­ ments: (a) Provisions for securing the fair value of the political liberties. that we have a duty towards all human beings. however severely handicapped. For example: (a) T o the objection that some of the basic rights and liberties. it would be an important question whether. T h e question concerns the weight of these duties when they conflict with other basic claims. Note also that Mill's idea of worker-managed cooperative firms is fully compatible with property-owning democracy. INSTITUTIONS practicable distinction that is. to simplify when simplificat­ ion is possible. We look at Marx's views mainly from one perspective: his critique of liberalism. . Justice as fairness is presented mainly as an attempt to get a clear and uncluttered view of what in the tradition of democratic political thought has been the fundamental question of political philosophy. (b) S o far as practicable. those he 5 9 . or else adapted to it as an essential complementary part. I don't know how far justice as fairness can be successfully extended to cover the more extreme kinds of cases. §52.8. al­ though what these are in detail was not examined (§45). it could be included in justice as fairness when suitably extended. T h e more extreme cases I have not considered. then. T h i s concludes our survey o f the main institutions o f a propertyowning democracy. and as normal and fully co­ operating members of society over a complete life (§2.1. what principles of justice are most appropriate to specify the fair terms of cooperation when society is viewed as a system of co­ operation between citizens regarded as free and equal persons. and accepted by common sense. We try to meet those of his criticisms that most clearly require an answer. provisions for realizing fair equality of opportu­ nity in education and training of various kinds. (c) A basic level of health-care provided for all (§51). Addressing Marx's Critique of Liberalism 52.

in existing conditions.52. While the idea of property-owning democracy tries to meet legitimate objections of the socialist tradition. we reply that. T h e evanescence of j u s ­ tice. even of distributive justice. whatever their social position. In On the Jewish Question (1843). concerned with it in everyday life. assumes that given the general facts of the political sociology of democratic regimes (such as the fact of reasonable pluralism). is not possible. Marx's Critique of Liberalism 177 connects with the rights of man (and which we have labeled the liberties of the moderns). we reply that in a well designed propertyowning democracy those rights and liberties. it is the most effective way to meet the principles of justice. the idea of the well-ordered society of justice as fairness is quite distinct from Marx's idea of a full communist so­ ciety. nor. 61. 60. by the fair value of the p o ­ litical liberties (working with the other principles of justice) all citizens. see Isaiah Berlin. "Two Concepts of Liberty. together with fair equality of opportunity and the difference principle. T h e latter he greatly values and he thinks that in some form they will be honored under communism. is it desirable (but I shall not discuss this). we reply that the background in­ stitutions of a property-owning democracy. that right is not a basic right but subject to the requirement that. by contrast. (c) T o the objection that a constitutional regime with private property se­ cures only the so-called negative liberties. may be assured a fair opportunity to exert political influence. 61 (d) T o the objection against the division of labor under capitalism. properly specified. O n the distinction between negative and positive liberties. (b) T o the objection that the political rights and liberties of a constitu­ tional regime 60 are merely formal. but a role for the former would seem to disappear. we re­ ply that the narrowing and demeaning features of the division should be largely overcome once the institutions of a property-owning democracy are realized (Theory. I think. give adequate protection to the so-called positive liberties. §79: 463^). suitably express and protect the higher-order interests of citizens as free and equal. A full communist society seems to be one beyond justice in the sense that the circumstances that give rise to the problem of distributive justice are surpassed and citizens need not be. Justice as fairness. the principles and political virtues falling under j u s ­ tice will always play a role in public political life. express and protect the mutual egoisms of citizens in the civil society of a capitalist world. and are not. A n d while a right to property in productive assets is permitted. Marx distinguishes between the rights of man and the political liberties." .

could greater democracy within capital­ ist firms achieve much the same result? I shall not pursue these questions. chap. and in our particular historical circumstances. 7. But we must be careful here not to compare the ideal of one conception with the actuality of the other. Since this has not happened. INSTITUTIONS 52.3. should such firms be granted subsidies. nor does it show many signs of doing so. A capitalist economy would gradually disappear and be peacefully replaced by worker-managed firms within a competitive econ­ omy. this would enable the firms to pay lower wages while being highly efficient. We must ask whether a liberal socialist regime does significantly better in realizing the two principles. Should it do so. See Mill. T h i s is a major difficulty and must be faced.2. If the latter is the case. T h i s is also a major difficulty. I shall not try to meet it except to recall that Mill's idea of worker-managed firms 62 is fully compatible with property-owning democracy. would worker-managed firms be more likely to encourage the democratic political virtues needed for a con­ stitutional regime to endure? If so. or by some other political conception of j u s ­ tice for a democratic regime? For example.178 IV. Marx would say that. I have no idea of the answers. In due course these firms would increasingly win out over capitalist firms. at least for a time. 52. Marx would raise another objection. that our account of the institutions o f property-owning democracy has not considered the impor­ tance of democracy in the workplace and in shaping the general course of the economy. then the case for liberal socialism is made from the standpoint of justice as fairness. Mill believed that people would much prefer to work in such firms. H e would say that no regime with private property in the means of production can satisfy the two principles of justice. even accepting the ideal of prop­ erty-owning democracy. so that they can get going? Would there be advantages from doing this that could be justified in terms of the political values ex­ pressed by justice as fairness. . But even if it is in good part true. or whether worker-managed firms have not had a fair chance to establish themselves. but certainly these questions call for careful ex62. or even do much to re­ alize the ideals of citizen and society expressed by justice as fairness. the question arises whether Mill was wrong about what people prefer. IV. such a regime generates political and economic forces that make it depart all too widely from its ideal institutional descrip­ tion. O f course. Principles of Political Economy. but rather to compare actuality with actuality. bk. namely. the question is not yet settled.

those w h o live on welfare and surf all day off Malibu? 53. §53. We cannot dis­ cuss the complicated issues involved here. T h i s question can be handled in two ways: one is to assume that everyone works a standard working day. provided of course the terms of cooperation are seen as fair. In elaborating justice as fairness we assume that all citizens are nor­ mal and fully cooperating members of society over a complete life. But leisure time has a reasonably objective measure and is open to view. It also meets the essential condition that primary goods must not presuppose any particular comprehensive doctrine. "The Priority of the Right and Ideas of the Good. Brief Comments on Leisure Time 53. 7. Surfers must somehow support themselves. 63 O f course. n. and the least advantaged are those with the lowest index. makes no mention of work. it is much better not to include such goods in the index. But how is this assumption expressed in the difference principle? T h e index of primary goods.Leisure Time 179 amination. 63. See. N o w this as­ sumption implies that all are willing to work and to do their part in sharing the burdens of social life. the other is to include in the index of primary goods a certain amount of leisure time. If necessary we can also include in the index realized native endowments and even states of consciousness like physical pain. We do this because for us the question of the fair terms of cooperation between citizens so regarded is fundamental and to be examined first." p. if leisure time is included in the index. . for the sake of having an objective measure and relying on information that is readily avail­ able and easy to comprehend. Are the least advan­ taged. society must make sure that opportunities for fruitful work are generally available.55. as discussed so far.1. 257. T h e long-run prospects of a just constitutional regime may de­ pend on them.2. T h e point is that we can include leisure time in the index should this be workable and the best way to ex­ press the idea that all citizens are to do their part in society's cooperative work. However. say sixteen hours per day if the standard working day is eight hours. T h o s e w h o do no work have eight extra hours of leisure and we count those eight extra hours as equiva­ lent to the index of the least advantaged w h o do work a standard day. then.

the parties can reason in terms of the fundamental interests of those they represent. or to have a will to dominate or a tendency to be submissive. Recall that earlier (§25. as we called them. h o w liable people are to those pro­ pensities.5) we split the argument from the original position into two parts. or to be peculiarly averse to uncertainty and risk.1. in w h i c h the principles of justice are provisionally chosen. h o w are we to direct the parties to proceed? . Here a difficulty arises: there seems to be no way of knowing in general. Yet these attitudes are important in human life and must be considered at some point. T h i s assumption greatly simplifies the parties' reasoning in selecting principles.PART V The Question of Stability §54. So in carrying out the idea of the original position. as is clear in the case of social and economic inequalities where the role of envy and spite cannot be ignored. Special attitudes aside. T h a t is. O u r aim is to complete the argument for the two princi­ ples of justice. the parties assume that the persons they represent are not moved by the special psychologies (or attitudes). In this last part we take up the question of the stability of justice as fairness and h o w its stability connects with the good of a political society well ordered by it. In the first part. apart from considering at least the broad features of the main in­ stitutions of the existing basic structure. the parties ignore persons' inclinations to be envious or spiteful. T h e Domain of the Political 54.

54. and in particular the fact of reason­ able pluralism. It is clear from the three features of a political conception (§90) that justice as fairness is such a conception 2 1.] . the political conception can be the focus o f an overlapping consensus. provide the institutional background the parties need to estimate how likely it is that citizens w h o grow up within that background will be swayed by destabilizing special attitudes.The Domain of the Political 181 54. the second part must take up the question whether in view of the general facts that charac­ terize a democracy's political culture. By splitting the argument into two parts.2. T h e second part of the argument concerns the question of the sta­ bility ofjustice as fairness. T h i s is the question whether justice as fairness is able to generate sufficient support for itself (§25. We will consider how the question of stability leads to the idea of an overlapping consensus on a political conception ofjustice. T h e latter is a different though not unrelated topic. and not a property of a scheme of institutions. 54. when realized in the basic structure. or by a will to dominate or a tendency to submit. by social envy and spite. We begin by recalling the idea of the domain of the political and of justice as fairness as a free-standing view. p. then the outcome of the first part of the argument is confirmed and the argument for the two principles is com­ plete. [See Political Liberalism. 2. Together with the discussion of the special psychologies. 141.5). If they do acquire a sufficiently strong sense ofjustice and are not swayed to the contrary by those special attitudes. Note that stability as defined here is a property of a conception ofjustice.3. we postpone the discussion of the special psychologies until the principles ofjustice are selected on the basis o f the fundamental interests o f persons as free and equal citizens. T h e social unity of a constitutional regime is seen to rest on such a consensus and this enables us to complete the discussion of stability—so far as w e can go into it here—by giving a brief account of a reasonable moral psychology and of the good of political society. T h i s two-part argument removes the dif­ ficulty. O n c e that is done those principles. say.' T h e parties are to ask whether people w h o grow up in a society well ordered by the two princi­ ples ofjustice—the principles adopted in the first part of the argument—ac­ quire a sufficiendy strong and effective sense ofjustice so that they normally comply with just arrangements and are not moved to act otherwise.

4. T H E Q U E S T I O N O F S T A B I L I T Y and is not applied moral philosophy. that it is framed to apply in the first in3. the familial. and indeed cannot. which are affectional. ( T h e associational. a structure o f basic institutions we enter only b y birth and exit only by death (or so we may appropriately assume). as it were. Taking the political as a distinctive domain. one that distinguishes it from the associational. and values are not the result o f applying an already elaborated and independent reli­ gious.5: namely. Political liberalism holds. or when they d o accept that structure. standards. the political is distinct from the associational. political power is. comprehensive in scope and gen­ eral in range. T h e appropriateness of this assumption rests in part on a point made in §26. T h i s means two things: first. characteristically apply. enter or leave it voluntarily. First. as distinct from other relationships. there are others. they may not regard as well grounded many o f the laws enacted b y the legislature to which they are subject. 3 . T h e s e are the political values: they arise in virtue o f certain special features o f the political relationship. and the personal are simply three examples o f the nonpolitical.) 54. But in a constitutional regime political power is also the power o f equal citizens as a collective body: it is regularly imposed on citizens as individuals. that there is a distinctive domain o f the political identified b y these features (among others) to w h i c h certain values. Its principles. S o understood. and w e d o not. it is also distinct from the familial and the personal. or moral doctrine. always coercive power backed b y the state's machinery for enforcing its laws. T h i s brings out a further feature of the domain of the political. philosophical. it formulates a family o f highly significant (moral) val­ ues that properly apply to the basic structure o f society. then. specified in an appropriate way. it is a relationship of persons within the basic structure o f society. say. o f course. that the right of emigration does not make the acceptance of political authority voluntary in the way that freedom of thought and liberty of conscience make the acceptance of ecclesias­ tical authority voluntary. Rather.182 V. let us say that a politi­ cal conception formulating its basic characteristic values is a free-standing view. which is voluntary in ways that the political is not. Political society is closed. Second. some of w h o m may not accept the reasons widely believed to justify the general structure o f political au­ thority (the constitution). again in ways the political is not. T h e political relationship we characterize as having at least two sig­ nificant distinctive features.

T h u s if it is said that outside the church there is no salva­ tion. T h i s reply does not say that the doctrine extra ecclesia nulla salus is not true. again with respect to constitutional essen­ tials. and hence a constitutional regime cannot be accepted. given what w e have called the burdens of judgment (§11. that it formulates the characteristic political values without drawing on. the appropriate reply is that such a doctrine is unreasonable: it proposes to use the pub­ lic's political power—a power in which all citizens have an equal share— forcibly to impose a view affecting constitutional essentials about which many citizens as reasonable persons.§4. 54. For clarity on this point I owe thanks to Wilfried Hinsch and Peter de Marneffe. Rather. It also holds. or mentioning. or citizens as 4. nor does it say that political values are entirely separate from. to gain the support of at least the reasonable comprehensive doctrines that endure and gain adherents over Ume. So said Boniface VIII in his famous bull Unam Sanctam of 1302. it says that it is unreasonable of any citizen. that so far as possible. and the personal. A political conception does not deny that there are other values applying to the associational. or unrelated to. and second.The Domain of the Political 4 183 stance to the basic structure of society alone. From the point of view o f political liberalism. inde­ pendent nonpolitical values. In §11 w e introduced the idea that the problem of stability in a democratic society leads us to specify a political conception of justice and the domain of the political so as to make it possible for a politi­ cal conception to be the focus o f an overlapping consensus: that is. the institutions of a constitudonal regime will not be secure. the family of basic political values expressed by its principles and ideals have sufficient weight to override all other values that may normally come into conflict with them. the familial. T h u s as a form of political liberalism. T h e s e convictions clearly imply some relation between political and other values. Otherwise. T h e extension of justice as fairness to the just relations between nation-states is dis­ cussed in The Law of Peoples. those values. 5. with regard to the constitutional essentials and questions o f basic justice. and given the existence of a reasonably well ordered constitutional regime.4-5).5. questions about those essentials are best setded by appeal to those political values alone. 6. a r e 6 5 bound to differ uncompromisingly. justice as fairness holds that. . w e must make some reply. It is on those questions that agree­ ment among those w h o affirm opposing comprehensive doctrines is most urgent.

and the conception to which they belong. it is not necessary that w e also reject it as incorrect. Note. in the second part. which we must. It is at this point that we introduce the idea of an overlapping consensus: a consensus in which the same political conception is endorsed by the opposing reasonable comprehensive doc­ trines that gain a significant body of adherents and endure from one genera­ tion to the next. T h e r e may be no way to avoid implying its lack of truth. the question of stability. T H E Q U E S T I O N O F S T A B I L I T Y members of an association. Only with the principles o f j u s ­ tice provisionally on hand do the parties take u p . w e may of course also regard that doctrine as untrue. A reply from within a comprehensive view—the kind of reply we should like to avoid in discuss­ ing constitutional essentials—might say that the doctrine is untrue and rests on a misapprehension o f the divine nature. §55. I would not change them substantially for our purposes. If w e do reject as unreasonable the state's enforcing a doctrine. T h e Question of Stability 55. however. We said that the argument for the two principles is presented in two parts. leaving aside the special psychologies. even when considering constitutional essentials. affirm as true or reasonable (or as not unreasonable). their fundamental interests.1. or moral view. In the first part the parties' aim is to select the principles that best se­ cure the good of the persons they represent. Quite the contrary: it is vital to the idea of political liberalism that we may with perfect consistency hold that it would be unreasonable to use political power to enforce our own comprehensive religious. T h e y now consider the special psychologies by check­ ing whether those w h o grow up under just institutions (as the princi­ ples adopted specify them) will develop a sufficiently firm sense ofjustice with respect to those attitudes and inclinations. T h i s aspect of the question is addressed in Theory. philosophical.184 V. that in saying it is unreasonable to enforce a doctrine. now that justice as fairness is seen as a political conception. can gain the support of the diversity of reasonable comprehensive doctrines bound to exist in a well-ordered democratic society. where §§80-81 illustrate the kind of discussion needed. of course. . is that the parties must also consider whether the principles adopted. More important for us. to insist on using the public's (coercive) politi­ cal power—the power of citizens as equals—to impose what they view as the implications of that doctrine upon other citizens. What is said below in §§59-60 supplements that account.

it is futile to try to realize it. It follows that ifjustice as fairness were not expressly designed to gain the reasoned support o f citi7. the other is to find ways to bring others w h o may now reject it to share it. the nature o f the forces that secure it. given their character and interests as formed by living un­ der a just basic structure. Scanlon. Perhaps w e think there are two separate tasks: one is to work out a politi­ cal conception that seems sound. But as a liberal conception. is strong enough to resist the normal tendencies to injustice. those w h o grow u p under just basic institutions—institutions that j u s ­ tice as fairness itself enjoins—acquire a reasoned and informed allegiance to those institutions sufficient to render them stable. two ways in which a political conception may be concerned with stability. fall under the art of the possible.55. Rather. on its being a liberal political view.2. 7 . given certain assumptions specify­ ing a reasonable human psychology and the normal conditions o f human life. A s long as the means o f persuasion or enforcement can be found.The Question of Stability 185 In describing the second part of the argument. Finding a stable conception is not simply a matter o f avoiding futility. the conception is viewed as stable. T h i s con­ trasts with a moral conception that is not political: a moral conception may condemn the world and human nature as too corrupt to be moved by its precepts and ideals. T h e r e are. as well as free and equal. We have seen h o w this feature o f liberalism connects with the feature of political power in a constitutional regime: namely. M . T h e idea is that. to act in accordance with it. and so as addressed to their public reason. what counts is the kind o f stability. at least to us. Citizens act willingly to give one another justice over time. Put another way: citizens' sense of justice. In this and the next several paragraphs I am indebted to helpful discussions with T. that it is the power of equal citizens as a collective body. T h e kind o f stability required of justice as fairness is based. one that aims to be acceptable to citizens as reasonable and rational. 55. Sta­ bility is secured by sufficient motivation o f the appropriate kind acquired under just institutions. let us agree that a political conception must be practicable. In one we suppose that stability is a purely practical matter: if a conception fails to be stable. however. or failing that. or reasonable. it is not Utopian in the pejorative sense. if need be prompted by penalties enforced b y state power. justice as fairness is concerned with stability in a different way. then.

whether it be that ofjustice as fairness or o f some other view. a next step would be to study the more general view suggested by the name "lightness as fairness. by workable sanctions.4. §59: 340. T H E Q U E S T I O N O F S T A B I L I T Y zens w h o affirm reasonable though conflicting comprehensive doctrines— the existence o f such conflicting doctrines being a feature of the kind o f public culture that conception itself sustains—it would not be liberal. Both parts are carried out within the same framework and subject to the same conditions included in the original position as a device of representation. 55. In one place (Theory. Rather. though. . or to act in accordance with it. T h e reader might reasonably conclude that justice as fairness is set out as part o f a comprehensive view that might be developed later were success to invite. as a liberal political conception. T h i s conclusion is supported by the account o f a well-ordered society in Part III o f Theory. or from which it can be derived. Only so is it an ac­ count o f political legitimacy as opposed to an account o f how those w h o hold political power can satisfy themselves in the light o f their o w n convic­ tions that they are acting properly. then. 9 8 T h a t work never discusses whether justice as fairness is meant as a compre­ hensive moral doctrine or as a political conception ofjustice. but also the explanation of why it is practicable must be o f the right kind. 9. but for a different purpose than my present one. T h e point. T h e problem o f stability is not that o f bringing others w h o reject a conception to share it. justice as fairness is not reasonable in the first place unless it generates its o w n support in a suitable way b y addressing each cit­ izen's reason. as if the task were to find ways to im­ pose that conception once we are convinced it is sound. as a liberal conception. T h e term is used once. if necessary. for 8. T h e idea o f an overlapping consensus was not used in Theory. §3: 15) it says that ifjustice as fairness succeeds reasonably well. See." T h e r e is. A liberal conception o f political legiti­ macy aims for a public basis of justification and appeals to free public rea­ son. no mention o f the distinction be­ tween a political conception and a comprehensive doctrine. as explained within its o w n framework. T h e force of the phrase "within its own framework" as used in the text is expressed by the two parts of the argument from the original position. and hence to citizens viewed as reasonable and rational. justice as fairness must not only avoid futility.3. 55. T h e r e the members of any well-ordered society. Theory. is that. accept not only the same conception of justice but also the same comprehensive doctrine o f which that conception is a part.186 V.

also accept the particular comprehensive view to which it might seem in Theory to belong. a free democratic society well ordered by any comprehensive doctrine. because justice as fairness is a free-standing political concep­ tion (§54. We now assume that citizens hold two distinct views.1. that aim is a reasonable guide and may be in good part realized.55. a partially comprehensive view. even if they accept justice as fairness as a political conception. In the latter case. which fails to allow for the condition of pluralism to which its own principles lead. the other part is a (fully or partially) comprehensive doctrine to which the political conception is in some man­ ner related. religious or secular. we can no longer assume that citizens generally. §76). T h i s is a better and no longer Utopian way of thinking of the well-ordered society of justice as fairness. or to coincide with. By contrast. Moreover. T h u s we now say: a society is well ordered by justice as fairness so long as. their overall view has two parts: one part can be seen to be. Taking such a well-ordered society as the aim of reform and change seems not altogether impracticable: under the reasonably favorable conditions that make a constitutional regime possible. or an adjunct to. T h e idea is first introduced in "Justice as Fairness: Political Not Metaphysical. is surely 10. §76: 436-440)55. Given the free institutions that conception enjoins. . It is left to citi­ zens individually to decide for themselves in what way their shared political conception is related to their more comprehensive views. or it may be endorsed because it can be derived within a fully articulated comprehensive doctrine. the members of the associ­ ated well-ordered society are said to affirm the utilitarian view. It corrects the view in Theory. T h e political conception may be simply a part of. first. or perhaps better. unreasonable comprehensive doctrines d o not gain enough currency to compromise the essential justice of basic institutions. A s we said in §11. the idea of an overlapping consensus 10 is used to enable us to think of the well-ordered society ofjustice as fairness in a more realistic way.The Question of Stability 187 example.3) that articulates fundamental political and constitutional values. citizens w h o affirm reasonable comprehensive doctrines generally endorse justice as fairness as giving the content of their political judgments. a political conception ofjustice. endorsing it involves far less than is contained in a comprehensive doctrine." §VI. and second. the discussion of the relative stability ofjustice as fairness and utilitarianism (Theory. which is by its nature (unless expressly restricted) a comprehensive doctrine (Theory.5.

2. lect.1. and worth defending. 3 . II. T h a t is. § § 3 . B y contrast. as it is of the Christianity of Aquinas or Luther.188 V. or w h e n it looks to particular comprehensive doctrines presently existing in society and then tailors itself to win their allegiance. w e could proceed in two ways. T H E Q U E S T I O N O F S T A B I L I T Y Utopian in the pejorative sense. Achieving it would in any case require the oppressive use of state power. we do not look to the comprehensive doctrines that in fact exist and then draw u p a political conception that strikes some kind of bal­ ance of forces between them. Everyday ideas about consensus politics and h o w to achieve consensus have misleading connota­ tions. D o i n g this might seem the best way to ensure that the index provides the basic elements necessary to advance the conceptions of the 11. §56. We need to be clear that these connotations are not involved in our very different idea of an overlapping consensus. a political conception is political in the w r o n g way w h e n it is framed as a workable compromise between known and existing political in­ terests.4 . It must also set out a public basis of j u s ­ tification for free institutions in a manner accessible to public reason. O u r use of the idea of an overlapping consensus arises thus: we suppose a constitutional democratic regime to be reasonably just and work­ able. § 5 . h o w can we frame our defense of it so that it might win wide support and thus achieve sufficient stability? T o this end. 11 say. T o illustrate: in specifying a list of primary goods. Yet given the fact of reasonable pluralism. . T h i s is as true of the liberalism of Tightness as fairness. Is Justice as Fairness Political in the Wrong Way? 56. and dis­ cussed in some detail in lect. so to speak. We could look at the various comprehensive doctrines actually found in society and develop an index of such goods that is near to those doctrines' center of gravity. For a political conception to avoid being political in the w r o n g way. T h e idea of primary goods is introduced in Political Liberalism. We now check that the idea of an overlapping consensus does not make justice as fairness political in the wrong way. w e would seek a kind of average of what those w h o affirmed those views would demand by way o f institutional rights and claims and all-pur­ pose means. V. it must formulate a free-standing view of the very great (moral) values apply­ ing to the political relationship. 56.

57. T h e problem is how to frame a conception of justice for a constitutional regime such that those w h o support. it elaborates a political concep­ tion as a free-standing view working from the fundamental idea of society as a fair system of cooperation and its companion ideas. 5. T h a t is. and to do so would make it political in the wrong way. how can the values of a distinctive domain of the political—a subdomain o f the realm of all values—normally outweigh whatever values may conflict with them? Or. T h e phrase is from J. S.1. 25. T h i s is not how justice as fairness proceeds. Instead. O u r hope is that this idea. par. despite dif­ ferences in their comprehensive views. with its index o f primary goods arrived at from within it. chap. Mill. put another way: h o w can we affirm a comprehensive doctrine as true or reasonable and yet hold that it would not be reasonable to use the state's power to require others' accep­ tance of it or compliance with the special laws it might sanction? T h e answer to this question has two complementary parts.How Is Liberalism Possible? 189 good associated with existing doctrines and thus to improve the likelihood of actually securing an overlapping consensus. or w h o might be brought to support. T h e thought is not that primary goods are fair to comprehensive conceptions of the good asso­ ciated with such doctrines by striking a fair balance among them. How Is Political Liberalism Possible? 57. T h e first part says that the characteristic values of the political are very great values and hence not easily overridden: these values govern the basic framework o f so­ cial life—the very groundwork of our existence —and specify the funda­ mental terms of political and social cooperation. starting from the fundamental ideas o f a democratic society and presupposing no particular wider doctrine. 12 . that kind of regime might also endorse the political conception.3. as w e have specified it. T h e question now arises as to how. political liberalism is possible. Utilitarianism. or might exist. but rather that it is fair to free and equal citizens as those persons whose conceptions of the good they are. have existed. We leave aside comprehensive doctrines that now exist. Injustice as fairness some 12. can be the focus of a reasonable overlapping consensus. §57. We put no doc­ trinal obstacles to its winning the support of a reasonable and enduring overlapping consensus. 56. T h i s leads to the idea of a political conception of justice.

As we have seen.2. History tells of a plurality o f not unreasonable comprehensive doc­ trines and this makes an overlapping consensus possible.190 V. T h i s second part says that the history of reli­ gion and philosophy shows that there are many reasonable ways in w h i c h the wider realm o f values can be understood so as to be either congruent with. at least when constitutional essentials and questions of ba­ sic justice are at stake. It is left to citizens individually as part of their liberty of conscience to settle how they think the great values o f the political domain are related to the other values they accept. H o w this can happen is shown by a model case o f an overlapping consensus. the values appropriate to the special domain of the political as specified by a political conception of justice. Other great values fall under the values of public reason (§26). We hope that in political practice we can thereby firmly ground the constitutional essentials in political values alone and that these values will provide a workable shared basis of public justification. T h e s e values include not only the appropriate use of the fundamental concepts of judgment. 57. to present the account of these values as those of a distinctive domain—the political— as a free-standing view. T h e second part of the answer as to how political liberalism is pos­ sible complements the first. T H E Q U E S T I O N O F S T A B I L I T Y of these great values are the values ofjustice expressed by the principles of justice for the basic structure: the values of equal political and civil liberty. fair equality of opportunity. the values ofjustice and of public reason express the lib­ eral ideal that since political power is the coercive power of citizens as a corporate body—a power in w h i c h each has an equal share—this power is to be exercised.3. 57. and as values that can be understood and affirmed without presupposing any particular comprehensive doctrine. and economic reciprocity as well as the social bases of citizens' self-respect. so far as possible. Together. and evidence. inference. or supportive of. and are expressed in the guidelines for public inquiry and in the steps taken to se­ cure that such inquiry is free and public. informed and reasonable. and in respecting the precepts governing reason­ able political discussion. only in ways that all citizens may reasonably be ex­ pected to endorse. or else not in conflict with. political liberalism tries. . but also the virtues of reasonableness and fair-mindedness as shown in adhering to the criteria and procedures of commonsense knowledge and the methods and conclusions of science when not controversial.

2-3). §23.2.4-5) and so.How Is Liberalism Possible? 191 T h i s model case contains three views: one view affirms the political con­ ception because its religious doctrine and account o f free faith lead to a principle o f toleration and support the basic liberties o f a constitutional re­ gime. the third is loose and not systematic. T h e third is but a loosely articulated doctrine covering a large family o f nonpo­ litical values in addition to the political values o f a constitutional regime. Only the first two views—the reli­ gious doctrine and the liberalisms o f Kant and Mill—are quite general and comprehensive. Given the . W h e n is a comprehensive doctrine reasonable? Without giving a full definition. they may be perfecdy rational. no reason w h y any citizen. all having an equal share in the corporate political power o f society. should have the right to use the state's power to favor a compre­ hensive doctrine. are being unreasonable. a reasonable doctrine must recognize the burdens of j u d g ­ ment (§11. In general.57. Further. 57.4. w e view democratic citizens not only as free and equal but as reasonable and rational. T h o s e w h o insist on imposing such principles on others. as well as to comply with those principles even at the expense o f their o w n interests as circumstances require. those political values normally outweigh whatever nonpolitical values may conflict with them. reasonable persons are ready to pro­ pose certain principles (as specifying fair terms o f cooperation). T h e r e is. that o f liberty o f con­ science. where the claims o f those cooperating are similarly based in relevant re­ spects. Turning to the present case. when others are moved to d o likewise. and it holds that under the reasonably favorable conditions that make de­ mocracy possible. moved say by their greater power or stronger bargaining position. are essential elements in the idea of society viewed as a fair system of cooperation among citizens re­ garded as free and equal. the second view affirms the political conception on the basis o f a comprehensive liberal moral doctrine such as that of Kant or J. or association of citizens. Mill. T o explain: w e have distinguished between the reasonable and the rational (§2. as when all have the status of free and equal citizens. we said. T h e first two more fully articulated and systematic views agree with the judgments o f the third in these matters. and all equally subject to the burdens of judgment. or to impose its implications on the rest. T h e s e two ideas. therefore. although under rea­ sonably favorable conditions it is normally adequate for questions of politi­ cal justice. yet given their interests. S. among other political values. there is no rea­ son for any o f them to accept principles that assign them lesser basic rights than the rest. Every­ day speech reflects this contrast between the reasonable and the rational.

and that ex­ isting political institutions meet their requirements. In this case. T h i s acceptance has come about. Here I use the phrase " m o ­ dus vivendi" in the usual way. Reasonable comprehensive doctrines recognize this fact and with it that all have an equal liberty of conscience. Here w e can only touch on this intricate question. each state would be wise and prudent to make sure that the treaty is drawn up in such a way that it is public knowledge that it is not advantageous for either state to violate it. and should conditions change they may do so. A t that time. social. w e may assume.192 V . Both states. A n Overlapping Consensus Not Utopian 58. in much the same way that the acceptance of the principle of toleration as a modus vivendi came about following the Reformation: at first reluctantly. however. the acceptance of the principle of toleration would indeed be a mere modus vivendi: should ei­ ther faith become dominant. and I merely oudine one way in w h i c h such a consensus on a liberal political conception much like justice as fairness might come about and its stability be made secure. no citizen when fairly represented could grant to others the political authority to do that. contrary to persons' fundamental interests in developing and exer­ cising their moral powers and in pursuing their particular (permissible) conceptions o f the good. as may be illustrated by a treaty between two states whose national interests put them at odds. are ready to pursue their goals at the expense of the other. It may be objected that the idea of an overlapping consensus is Uto­ pian: that is. the principle o f toleration would no longer be followed. and the parties as representatives reason accordingly. T H E Q U E S T I O N O F S T A B I L I T Y grounds for the priority of liberty (§30). that there are not sufficient political.1. as a result of various historical con­ tingencies. or psychological forces either to bring about an overlapping consensus (when one does not exist). §58. Let us suppose that at a certain time. A n y such authority is therefore without reason. What is essential for an overlapping consensus is stability with re- . but nevertheless as providing the only alternative to endless and destructive civil strife. In negotiating a treaty. or to render one stable (should one exist). both held that it was the duty of the ruler to uphold the true religion and to repress the spread of heresy and false doctrine. T h a t the same may be true of toleration is clear from the example o f Catholics and Protestants in the sixteenth century. the principles of a liberal conception—say those of justice as fairness—have come to be accepted as a mere modus vivendi.

13 . which of these cases hold. generality and compre­ hensiveness admit o f degree. as well as their being not fully. one way or the other. many ways for the political conception to cohere loosely with a (partially) comprehen­ sive view. then. Most people's religious. philosophical. Hence it is possible for them first to affirm that conception on its own and to appreciate the public good it accomplishes in a democratic society. then they might very well adjust or revise the latter rather than reject the political conception. or appreciation of. and many ways within the limits of a political conception to allow for the pursuit o f different (partially) comprehensive doctrines. and so does the extent to which a view is ar­ ticulated and systematic.2. the political conception and the later ad­ justment or revision o f comprehensive doctrines to which that allegiance or appreciation leads w h e n inconsistencies arise. or even thought much about. Note that here we distinguish between the initial allegiance to. T h e r e is lots o f slippage. 58. but only partially comprehensive. T o decide among them would raise highly complicated questions. L e t us ask: h o w far in practice does the allegiance to a political conception ac­ tually depend on its derivation from a comprehensive view? Consider three possibilities: (a) the polidcal conception is derived from the comprehensive doctrine. Here I elaborate an idea of Samuel Schemer's stated in conversation. so to speak. T h i s suggests that many if not most citizens come to affirm the public political conception without seeing any particular connection. (c) the political conception is incompatible with it. and moral doctrines are not seen by them as fully general and comprehensive. and in practice w e may not need to decide among them. (b) it is not derived from but is compatible with that doctrine. may be particularly significant. T h e s e adjustments or revi­ sions we may suppose to take place slowly over time as the political con­ ception shapes comprehensive views to cohere with it. O u r question. In everyday life w e have not usually decided. is this: h o w might it happen that over genera­ tions the initial acquiescence injustice as fairness as a modus vivendi could develop into a stable and enduring overlapping consensus? A t this point a certain looseness in our comprehensive views.58. and last. between it and their other views. Should an incompatibility later be recognized between the political conception and their comprehensive doc­ trines. Overlapping Consensus Not Utopian 193 spect to the distribution o f power: this requires that the political concep­ tion be affirmed by citizens irrespective o f the political strength o f their comprehensive view. 13.

and group-interests. its form of reasoning is relatively clear and perspicuous. and puts them beyond the calculus of social inter­ ests. of course. With this we have an overlapping consensus. We conjecture. or reasonable (as the case may be). T h e y come to think it both reasonable and wise to affirm its principles of justice as expressing political values that. But here we are concerned with the further bases of allegiance generated by a liberal conception ofjustice. nor­ mally outweigh whatever values may oppose them. First. 189-195.194 V . or simply on the desire to conform to what is expected and normally done. an allegiance that be­ comes stronger over time. for what he calls the minimum content of natural law. T h a t an overlapping consensus is quite different from a modus vivendi is clear from the model case in §57. I assume that a liberal conception includes (as do many other familiar concep­ tions) this minimum content. Widespread alle­ giance may also be encouraged by institutions securing for all citizens the political values included under what Hart calls the minimum content of natural law. and reasonably reliable in its o w n terms. T H E Q U E S T I O N O F S T A B I L I T Y 58. it fixes. under the reasonably favorable conditions that make democracy possible.3: the case where the political conception is the focus o f a consensus containing a religious doctrine of free faith. note two features: first. We now ask: in virtue of what political values might justice as fair­ ness gain allegiance to itself? A n allegiance to institutions and to the con­ ception that regulates them may. but with how easily its principles and standards can be correctly understood and reliably applied in public discussion. once and for all. they acquire an allegiance to it. takes those guarantees off the political agenda. in effectively regulating basic political institutions. custom and traditional attitudes. where we said that a liberal concep­ tion. a liberalism of the kind of Kant or Mill. pp.4. and so in the text I focus on the bases of the allegiance such a conception generates in virtue of the distinctive content of its principles. Here the phrase "in its own terms" means that we are not at present concerned with whether the conception in question is true. be based in part on long-term self. . the content of basic rights and liberties. Second. See Hart's The Concept of Law.3. then. 15. meets the three es­ sential requirements of a stable constitutional regime. its conception of free pub­ lic reason encourages the cooperative political virtues. the 15 14 14. 58. In this example. and third. that as citizens come to appreciate what a liberal conception achieves. and a rather unsystematic view that includes a wide range of nonpolitical values along with the politi­ cal values ofjustice as fairness. At this point w e simply recall §33.

does not make their affirming it any less religious. based on a contingent. philosophical. T h i s name is appro- . is not merely a consensus on ac­ cepting certain authorities. the main psychological as­ sumptions underlying the preceding account o f how political allegiance is generated. T h i s real possibility is all w e need show in reply to the objection that the idea o f such a consensus is Utopian. or on complying with certain institutional ar­ rangements. indeed. A Reasonable Moral Psychology 59. those w h o affirm the various views supporting the political conception will not withdraw their support of it should the relative strength of their view in society increase and eventually become dominant. and virtues as the shared content through which their several views coincide. it is affirmed on moral grounds. and an account of the cooperative virtues through which those prin­ ciples are embodied in human character and expressed in public life.or group-interests. or moral. Each view supports the political conception on its merits. A n overlapping consensus. convergence o f self. the stability of which does depend on that distribution. that o f sta­ bility: that is. a psychology o f the reasonable itself. I sketch. and hence organize their doctrine using different premises and grounds. However. A n d second. this in contrast with the case o f Catholic and Protestant in the sixteenth century. T h e test for this is whether the consensus is stable with respect to changes in the distribution of power among views. the political conception will still be supported regardless o f shifts in the distribution o f political power. is itself a moral con­ ception. necessarily only briefly. princi­ ples. We have just seen h o w an initial acquiescence in a liberal concep­ tion of justice as a modus vivendi may change over time into a stable over­ lapping consensus. S o long as the three views are affirmed and not revised. T h i s leads to what w e may think o f as a reasonable moral psy­ chology. as well as principles o f justice. that is.j o .1. to confirm this possibility. therefore. T h i s feature o f stability highlights a ba­ sic contrast between an overlapping consensus and a modus vivendi. the political conception of justice. §59. T h e preceding two features o f an overlapping consensus (moral focus and moral grounds) connect with a third and essential feature. A l l three views in the model case support from within themselves the political conception: each recognizes its concepts. T h e fact that those w h o affirm the political conception start from within their o w n comprehensive view. or historical. it includes conceptions o f society and o f citizens as persons. A Reasonable Moral Psychology 195 focus o f consensus. as the case may be.

and o f engaging in fair social coop­ eration. In the account in Theory o f the three-stage development o f the morality o f principles (as it is called there). T h e assumptions of this psychology essentially state that persons are ca­ pable of being reasonable and rational. T h e moral psychology behind the assumptions as described in the text is given in considerably more detail in Theory. 1 simply refer to those sections as I would not change them sub­ stantially.2. A n d recall that the basis of equality at the highest level (§39-2) is simply the capacity to be both reason­ able and rational. See Theory. to answer others' being fair to us with our being fair to them.9. (2) W h e n they believe that institutions or social practices are just. §§70-72. VIII.196 V.. T h e idea of evident intention as used here is from Rousseau's Emile.7 6 . citizens are ready and willing to d o their part in those arrangements provided they have sufficient assurance that others will also d o theirs. . It is not alone among dispositions is this respect.. chap. In short. is an element of the psychology of the reasonable. and they also grow stronger and more complete when the basic institutions framed to secure fundamental interests (for example. w h e n fairly repre­ sented.. §71: 4iif. §75: 433. (3) W h e n others with evident intention 16 d o their part in just or fair insti­ tutions. §70: 405f. 17 (4) T h e trust and confidence (noted in (3)) grow stronger and more complete as the success o f shared cooperative arrangements is sustained over a longer time. T h u s : (1) In line with the (political) conception o f the person with the two moral powers. 7 5 . What is essential is to see their role in (the second part of) the argument for the principles ofjustice as a whole. n. §72: 4i4f. b y principles they would themselves. be prepared to propose or to acknowledge). citizens tend to develop trust and confidence in them. W h a t makes it unique is its tie with reason. the psychological laws for each stage ex­ hibit this reciprocity of disposition. or fair (as specified. and the like. 17. T h i s belongs to the reasonable as we have specified it beginning in §2. citizens have a capacity for a conception o f the good and a capacity to acquire conceptions ofjustice and to act as these conceptions require. say. §70. T h i s ten­ dency to answer in kind. T H E Q U E S T I O N O F S T A B I L I T Y priate since the idea o f reciprocity appears both as a principle giving its content and as a disposition to answer in kind. In short: the reasonable generates itself and answers itself in kind. 16. they have a capacity to be both reasonable and rational. the basic rights and liberties) are more willingly and steadfastly recognized in public political life. see Theory.

T h e discovery of a new social possibility: the possibility of a reasonably harmonious and stable pluralist and democratic society. 1967). T h e weakening of that belief helps to clear the way for free insti­ tutions. T h i s independent al­ legiance in turn leads people to act with evident intention in accordance with liberal arrangements. T h e s e conditions are a shared historical situation. 44of. . may follow from this success of liberal institutions. See also A . since they have reasonable assurance (founded in part on past experience) that others will also comply with them. A Reasonable Moral Psychology 197 (5) We may also suppose that everyone recognizes what I have called the historical and social conditions of modern democratic societies: (i) the fact of reasonable pluralism and (ii) the fact of its permanence. T o conclude: precisely because it is not general and comprehensive. philosophical. It may seem more natural to believe. a 18 18. (6) Also part of the historical and social conditions of democracy are (v) the fact of moderate scarcity and (vi) the fact of there being numerous pos­ sibilities of gains from well-organized social cooperation. as the success of political cooperation continues. T h e s e last two facts and the four general facts specify the circumstances of political justice (§24). Intolerance was seen as a condition of social order and stability.50. or moral doctrine.4). 59. Hume remarks on this in par. Before the successful practice of tolera­ tion in societies with liberal institutions there was no way o f knowing o f that possibility. G . In this situation it is unreasonable not to recognize (iv) the fact of the burdens of judgment and to acknowledge that all are equally subject to them together with the full consequences o f this (§57. that social unity and concord require agreement on a general and comprehensive religious. pp. as well as (iii) the fact that this pluralism can be overcome only by the oppressive use of state power. citizens come to have increasing trust and confidence in one another. provided it can be established on fair terms.2. The English Reformation (Glasgow: Fontana Press. and that this allows scope for the development of an independent allegiance to a lib­ eral conception once the way it works is appreciated. 6 of "Liberty of the Press" (1741). Dick­ ens. as centuries-long ac­ ceptance of intolerance appeared to confirm. We can now enlarge u p o n our answer to the question: how might an overlapping consensus on a liberal conception ofjustice develop from its acceptance as a mere modus vivendi? Recall our assumption that the com­ prehensive doctrines o f most people are not fully comprehensive. Gradually over time.

In this case.1. This good is the fifth conception of the good so far discussed. T H E Q U E S T I O N O F S T A B I L I T Y political conception ofjustice (takingjustice as fairness as an example) may encourage the eventual development of a mere modus vivendi into an over­ lapping consensus. as a contract doctrine. let's say.2. cooperating solely to pursue their own personal. as the institutions of. a private so­ ciety. or moral doctrine. O n this account an overlapping consensus is not a happy coincidence. T h e Good of Political Society 60. O n the sixth conception of the good see note 22. are no longer pro­ posed as political conceptions ofjustice. In reply. T h e conception's limited scope together with the loose­ ness o f our comprehensive doctrines allows leeway for it to gain an initial allegiance to itself and thereby to shape those doctrines accordingly as con­ flicts arise. by great historical good fortune. (Here a final end is understood as an end valued or wanted for its own sake and not solely as a means to something else. as it n o doubt must be.) It is sometimes objected that. even if aided. §60. T h i s good is realized b y citizens. For the preceding four. Religions that once rejected toleration may come to accept it and to affirm a doctrine o f free faith. both as persons and as a corporate body. or distinct associadons. 19 Let us begin b y examining the objection that because it is not based on a comprehensive religious. advantage without having any final ends in common. political society itself is not a good. w h e n they act to uphold a just constitutional regime. philosophical. or associational. w e n o w take u p an aspect of stability con­ nected with the good o f a political society well ordered by the two princi­ ples ofjustice. it is in part the work o f society's public tradition o f political thought in developing a practicable political conception ofjustice. Having understood h o w the question o f stability calls for the idea of an overlapping consensus. while viewed as suitable for nonpublic life and as possible bases for affirming a constitutional regime. . justice as fairness does indeed abandon the ideal o f political 19. the comprehensive liberalisms of Kant and Mill. a process that takes place gradually over generations (assuming a reasonable moral psychology). justice as fair­ ness abandons the ideal o f a political community and views society as so many distinct individuals. but at best a means to individual or associational good. Rather. see §43. justice as fairness is an in­ dividualistic view and sees political institutions as purely instrumental to individual or associational ends.198 V.

At p. A s we have seen. and therefore to respect their freedom of religion. We must view social unity in a different way: as deriving from an overlap­ ping consensus on a political conception of justice. in such a consensus this political conception is affirmed by citizens w h o hold different and conflicting comprehensive doctrines. While it is true that they do not affirm the same comprehensive doctrine. a private society. that is. the end of supporting just institutions and giv­ ing one another justice accordingly. as thus specified. See Amy Gutmann. they do affirm the same political conception. . or with good reason believed. 60. the same principles of justice. is publicly known. It is no longer a political possibility for those w h o accept the basic lib­ erties and the principle of toleration that is basic to democratic institutions. T h a t conception of social unity is excluded by the fact of reasonable plural­ ism. then. 31m. is not. A well-ordered society. one that enables them to understand and to apply the principles of justice. (2) that its basic structure. not to mention the other ends they must also share and realize through their political cooperation. to satisfy those principles. Gutmann is surely right in saying that our commitment to treat other citizens as equals. and they affirm it from within their own distinct views.2. Recall (from §3) that to say a society is well ordered by a concep­ tion ofjustice means three things: (1) that it is a society in which all citizens accept. say. may be just as ele­ mental a part of our identity as our affirming a particular religion and fulfilling its practices. or moral doctrine. and for the most part to act from them as their circumstances require. we can say that the shared final end of giving one another justice may be part of citizens' identity." Philosophy and Public Affairs 14 (Summer 1985): 308-322. and acknowledge before one another that they accept. Moreover. and one with high priority: namely. The Good of Political Society 199 community if by that ideal is meant a political society united on one (par­ tially or fully) comprehensive religious. 20 From this last remark it follows that a political society is a community if 20. philosophical. for citizens do have final ends in common. If we use the term "identity" in a manner now common.6o. "Communitarian Critics of Liberalism. in a well-ordered society the end of political justice is among citizens' most basic aims by reference to which they express the kind of person they want to b e . Social unity so understood is the most desirable conception of unity available to us: it is the limit of the practical best. and this means that they share one basic political end. its main political and social institutions and the way they hang together as one system of cooperation. and (3) that citizens have a normally effective sense of justice.

and thus as having the moral powers that en­ able them to assume this role. they are simply verbal stipulations. A second reason political society is a good for citizens is that it secures for them the good ofjustice and the social bases of mutual. In the first way it is a g o o d for persons individually. the well-ordered society ofjustice as fairness is a good in two ways.200 V. O f course. other views might adopt different principles to reach much the same conclusion. Under normal circumstances. nothing turns on these definitions of community alone. and the basic rights and liberties o f a con­ stitutional regime are to assure that everyone can adequately develop these powers and exercise them fully over the course of a complete life as they so decide. liberties and fair op­ portunities. T h u s . 60. T h i s is a consequence o f the moral psychology used injustice as fairness. including a political society. in securing the equal basic rights. political society guarantees persons public recognition of their status as free and equal. In Theory this psychology uses the so-called Aristotelian principle (see §65). In this context we might say: part of the es­ sential nature o f citizens (within the political conception) is their having the two moral powers that are the root of their capacity to engage in fair social cooperation. . O n e reason is that the exercise o f the two moral pow­ ers is experienced as good. What is vital is that the well-ordered society specified by the political conception ofjustice characterizes citizens as hav­ ing shared final ends of the requisite kind. 21. We view citizens. and this for two reasons. T h e s e matters granted. so much so that in stating before themselves the kind of person they want to be they count their having these ends as essen­ tial. T H E Q U E S T I O N O F S T A B I L I T Y we now mean by a community a society. is clear from the central role of these pow­ ers in the political conception o f persons as citizens. we suppose those moral powers to be developed and exercised within institutions of political freedom and liberty of conscience.3. as normal and fully cooperating members of society over a complete life. We regard citizens as having the two moral powers. the members of which—in this case citizens—share certain final ends to which they give very high priority. and will be one for many people. In securing these things political society answers to their fundamental needs. and their exercise to be supported and sustained by the social bases of self-respect. for the purposes of political justice. Together with other assumptions made.and self-respect. these shared final ends provide the basis for the good of a well-ordered society. 21 T h a t their exercise may be an important good. then.

to be sure. T h a t there should be such political and social goods is no more mysteri­ ous than that members of an orchestra. as does their concern to distance themselves from periods of their his­ tory in which injustice may have prevailed. T h i s is shown by the fact that a democratic people esteem it as one of the significant achievements of their history. But these reflections I shall not 2 2 . or players on a team. See § 4 3 . but these differences. Here I hint at the idea of the good of political society as a social union of social unions. Otherwise we lose sight of the path justice as fairness must follow if it is to gain the support of an overlapping consensus. without lapses. is a great social good and appreciated as such. do not affect the psychological principle involved in realizing the good of justice in a well-ordered political society. and the sense of its loss can also be highly significant.6o. Moreover.4. it means that the ideas used must be political ideas: they must be tailored to meet the restrictions imposed by the political concep­ tion of justice and fit into the space it allows. § 7 9 . 2 and Theory. Rather. 60. Establishing and successfully maintaining reasonably just (though of course always imperfect) democratic institutions over a long pe­ riod of time. A democratic people's pride in distinguishing themselves from nondemocratic peoples makes this clear. even though a comprehensive doc­ trine may endorse this good from within its own point of view. . For whenever there is a shared final end. the priority o f right does not mean that ideas of the good must be avoided. or in a g o o d play of the game.1). the achievement of w h i c h calls on the cooperation of many. though not. this g o o d can be highly significant even when the conditions for realizing it are quite imperfect. Repeat­ edly w e must insist on this disdnction. perhaps gradually reforming them over generations. as great and inhibiting as they may be. one they will want to re­ member. should take pleasure and a certain (proper) pride in a good performance. that is impossi­ ble (§43. The Good of Political Society 201 T h e good involved in the exercise of the moral powers and in the public recognition o f persons' status as citizens belongs to the political good of a well-ordered society and not to that o f a comprehensive doctrine. A well-ordered political society is also good in a second way. or even both teams in a game. 22 N o doubt the requisite conditions become more difficult to sat­ isfy as societies become larger and the social distance between citizens be­ comes greater. A s w e have stressed. the good realized is social: it is realized through citi­ zens'joint activity in mutual dependence on the appropriate actions being taken by others.

each citizen of a well-ordered so­ ciety recognizes the others as also affirming the principles ofjustice. with the basic structure o f their society.). and one that fits within the political conception. Put another way. and the temptation to deprive others ofjustice. T h e more they see their political society as good for themselves both as a corporate body and as individuals. T h i s is not to say that they d o not also have reasons ofjustice so to act. and w h o also know. Theory. or reasonably believe. and the greater their appreciation of the political conception in securing the three essentials o f a stable regime. are moved b y reasons o f their good to d o what justice requires. then.202 V. Hence each also recognizes that all citizens give high priority to the end o f cooper­ ating politically with one another on terms that the representative o f each would endorse in a situation in which they are all fairly represented as free and equal. .1 above). It remains only to point out the relation between citizens' seeing their political society as good and its stability. T H E Q U E S T I O N O F S T A B I L I T Y pursue. spite. For at the stage of the morality of principles ((3) of §59. A s this was put in Theory: the question is whether the just and the good are congruent. and reasonable and rational (Theory. citizens want to cooperate politically with one another in ways that sat­ isfy the liberal principle of legitimacy: that is. T h e consider­ ations that move them are not perceived threats or dangers from outside forces but are given in terms o f the political conception they all affirm. We need not establish h o w great a good is political good. §72: 4i8f. the will to dominate. argues that those w h o grow u p in a society well ordered by justice as fairness. have sufficient reason founded on their good (rather than on justice) to comply with just institutions. that everyone else has an effective sense of justice. w h o have a rational plan o f life. the just and the good (as specified by that political conception) fit together in such a way that citi­ zens w h o count as part o f their good being reasonable and rational and be­ ing seen b y others as such. because citizens are satisfied. on terms that can be publicly justified to all in the light o f shared political values. T o see this. only that it is a significant good. For in the well-ordered society ofjustice as fairness. A well-ordered society is stable. recall the public character of this good. the less they will be prompted b y the special attitudes o f envy. all things considered. §86. A m o n g these reasons is the good o f political society itself in the ways w e have discussed.

10. See also Basic structure of society. 135-136. to en­ sure fairness over time.182. 188 Aristotelianism. 192. i6n. 3 9 . basic vs. 6 9 ^ 7 Buchanan. limits to unequal distributions not specified. 36n26. as fundamen­ ative vs. John. and background justice.183. as primary subject ofjustice. 57. 50. Thomas. and first feature of political conception. and worker-managed firms. his liberalism. 50 Berlin. 50-51. 1 6 3 .159. property-owning de­ mocracy. and institutional division of labor. 138.33. two roles. 8n. Family . and contingencies in life-prospects. 1 2 . requires regulation over time. positive liberties.139-140. 57. 54. assessed from certain stan­ dard points of view. nonpublic rea­ son of. 10.144. 168170 Capitalism: conflicts with justice as fairness. 4. 35-37. 12. 92. 144. 8 Allocative justice: denned. _ 55-57. 183ns Broome.191. 143. 71 Basic liberties. 11. 8-9. See Education. 93. 94. 50. 142-143 tal idea. See also Fair system of coopera­ tion Aquinas. 1 8 2 . 26-27. and utilitari­ anism. 65 Bentham. neg­ Background justice.197 Capabilities.199. 156.1 8 3 . primary goods.164-166.170-171. vs. 20. St. welfare-state vs. 52-55. 51-55. 12. as ideal social process. See Equal basic liberties Basic structure of society: defined. 97 Burdens ofjudgment. 10. bound indirecdy by principles ofjustice. Allen.14. Jeremy.162-166. violates two principles ofjustice. 136-137. 10-11. background justice. profound influence on citi­ zens. 170-171.195 Children. 50. 50-51. Protestants in sixteenth cen­ tury. 4.118.154n.4 0 . political society.182 sharpboundaries of. 10. 6 9 ^ 7 . does not. 178 Catholics vs. Isaiah: no social world without loss. 43ns. James. no Aristotelian principle. includes family. allocative justice. 117 Abstract conceptions: role of. I77n6i Boniface VIII. recognize principle of reciprocity.49. membership voluntary.Index Abortion.139-140. incompatible with justice as fairness. 10. and overlap­ ping consensus. 54. 55-57.11. 68. 200n Associations: vs. 48. Ideal social process view Barry. vs. 58n24 Buchanan. 10. 8n. 5 2 . Brian.

32. 1 4 6 . utilitarianism. and abortion. S. Utili­ tarianism Conscription. 200.162. 28. vs.15. and politi­ cal legitimacy. 4. 142-144 Cohen. Robert A. covered by first principle. differ­ ence principle.175 Dasgupta. 178. 8. and loyal op­ position. See also Virtues Classical republicanism.141. 1 6 9 . 20. Reflective equilib­ rium Constant.45. actual preferences. political not metaphysical conception of. reasonably favorable condrtions. 17. 28. fundamental interests have pri­ ority. 110.170. 21-24. 29. 153-154.117. self-authenticating sources of claims. Benjamin.133-134. I3ni2 Daniels. 60. fundamental interests of secured by two principles. 122. Political concep­ tion ofjustice. 197 Citizens: as free and equal. Partha.183. i65n46 a s Dahl. and comprehensive views. 18. Overlapping consensus. use in se­ lecting principles ofjustice. 117.200. affirm two distinct views. Primary goods Citizenship. can play a role in social life. 46. do not suffer from special psy­ chologies.117. See also Original position.197.. 200. when reasonable. 9m. moral identity. and changes of moral identity. when un­ reasonable. in­ cludes social minimum. 41-42.150.144 Constitution: guided by first principle of justice. 23-24.1 1 4 . and principle of restricted utility. arid public reason. democratic society. 153-154.143. 202.5. and medical care. not distinguished in Theory. 24. ideal of.140. 90. partially.117 Civic humanism. abstract conception of. 93. 151. 76. 9. defined. i83n6 Democracy: constitutional vs.190. public vs. funda­ mental interests vs. conception of comes from public politi­ cal culture. 183. 84. and good of political society. 33. 202. 88-89. 1 9 6 . fundamental interests and ba­ sic liberties. 22-23.204 Circumstances ofjustice: objective. J. and perfec­ tionist values. 79. 1 3 2 . 199-200. 174. 47-48. See also Moral powers. 101. sub­ jective. 3 . Norman. 14. 90. 19. See also Political society Comprehensive doctrines: reasonable plu­ workplace. 41. 25. 8 5 . 30.53n20. not used to spell out central organizing idea. have public identity over a complete life. See also Constitutional essen­ tials Constitutional essentials: examples of. conception of is norma­ tive not biological or psychological. vs. 46. deliberative. equal­ ity of requires difference principle. 112-113. 47n Deductive reasoning: used in original posi­ tion. and basic liberties. 107. 152. institutions of distributive justice. 173-175. setded by appeal to political conception ofjustice.184 fundamental interests and moral powers of. 33. duty of. 28-29. ioon2i. See also Kant. 4. 18-21. 92. in the Community vs. I46n.181-182. 82. procedural. 92. I48n20.32. fully vs. 1 1 2 . Joshua. 19. 96. 49. and constitu­ tional essentials. 43n3.18-24. Peter. 49. 148.187. freedom of has two as­ pects. Political liberalism.58n24. equality of in so­ cial contract tradition vs. 191192. 202.41. equal­ ity of. Property-own­ ing democracy . 2. 84. tak­ ing seriously freedom and equality of. !99-200. 49.. 4 9 .184. 102-110. 2 1 . 47. 142-144 Civic republicanism. 48-49. 22-23. 8 7 . 1 9 2 . 200-202. See also Democratic re­ gime. 1 9 8 200. and public rea­ son. Immanuel. 186-187. 47 Considered judgments: defined. Mill. two. 145-148. Index ralism of. Democratic society. 14. made at all levels of generality. political conception. vs. and historical and social con­ ditions of democratic societies. 71. and public justification. 60. 91. 19. share certain final ends. freely accepted. 150 Civility. 24. 25 De Marneffe. have sufficient reason to comply with just institutions.

presuppose deliberate acts of will. not a fixed natural order. priority of. 49. special form of. 73-75. not a constitutional essential. expresses concern for all members of society.130. 75-76. 1 6 6 . 1 4 0 . 46nio. 46-47. fully adequate. may have little support in our public culture. 59n26. 49. 6. and original position. 197 Difference principle: stated. 34. de­ pends on rough continuum of basic structures. and expectations of primary goods.123. 157-158. 28. See Entitlements Dickens. 77-79.150.Jean. 74~75. restric­ tion vs. 45. 47. and conscription. 75. and distribution of native endowments. four gen­ eral facts about. vs. 1 2 5 . 49. 6. 1 1 7 . wide guaran­ tee of fair value rejected. 7 9 . does not rely on maximin rule. sense in which egalitarian.1 2 6 . 64. Jon. principle of restricted utility.136. 1 6 3 . 33-35. 66-72. Native endow­ ments Deservingness. and difference principle. 104. and two fundamental cases. Ronald. 46. and worth of liberties.159. 47n Dworkin. specified by list. 49.. revisions to. 1 7 3 Elections. i l l . 76. identifying relevant positions. vs. 149. 62. 77. 197. 78. vs. 94 95? 96. 52. of children. 65-66. 4 3 3 . 197. 90. 5 6 . fact of. 64. 115. 131. regulation of. 161-162. 7 6 . and fair value of liberties. its to inequalities not specified. 126. 5 0 51.158n. See Entitlements. i6on39 Entitlements: and background justice. 3. See Special psychologies Equal basic liberties: as constitutional es­ sentials. 129-130. must be adjusted.5 7 . 1 6 7 . are truly essen­ tial. authorize effective inequalities. 77-78. 67-68. as a system of social cooperation.1 5 7 . 52. express principle of reciprocity. list drawn up in two ways. and the family. 65-66. 64.133. 6. 68n Education: and wide role of political con­ ception.162. and utilitarianism. Public political culture. 60.59-60. 43-44. of women. 59. 20. 1 4 6 . set within prior princi­ n _ 205 and taxation. 87. I7n. arguments for not decisive. 70. specified by public rules. 11 English. 43. 112-114. 96. simplest form of. not justified by religious doctrines. and veil of igno­ rance. 71. 7 3 74. allocative justice. 125126. 1 5 6 . 112-113. 1 2 2 .105. Difference principle Dreze. 52. 72. 48-49.1 4 8 . no priority to liberty as such. 4 .7 7 . 77. 51. 50. 78 Envy. and legitimate expectations. 44. 1 1 . and background procedural justice. guaranteed by a constitution.149 ple. 112-113. historical and so­ cial conditions of. regulation of by two con­ flicting criteria. vs. Reasonable plu­ ralism. 50. i l l . 96. taking seri­ ously. respected by difference principle. 44. 95. 73. 77-79. 2. 40. not absolute. applies to institutions. and deservingness. a form of reciproc­ ity.111. and social minimum. principle of just savings. and entitlements.192.123-124. G. 119-130. 61-62. 63.133. Political society. Jane. moral desert. possibility of as pluralist and harmonious. 48. role of permissible inequalities. its power as power of citizens. 159. 71. and head taxes. 150-152 Equality: conflict with liberty. 78. does not require continual economic growth. 156. 61. as principle of distributive justice. 42. See also Oppression. counterexamples. 93-94 Democratic society: not a community.Index Democratic regime: must have support of different comprehensive doctrines. constitutional essen­ tials. 71. 68-69. 151. 104. ad­ dress serious income inequalities. See also Background justice. A . 69. lim­ Elster. three reasons why acceptable to more advantaged. and medical care. 65. and first . 173-174. 163. 68. 133. 42-43. 198-200. fact of Desert. See also Inequalities Distributive justice: vs. and first principle of justice. and role of basic structure. 158. problem of.

191 Fair terms of cooperation. lexically prior to difference principle. 139.119. Well-ordered society Fundamental interests. 97n. 92. 96.132. 163. six conceptions of. 96. 56n. as great value. settled by agree­ ment. See also Basic structure of society. 53. not justified by intrinsic reason­ ableness. 13. J. includes idea of reciprocity.194. controversial points in.149-150 Fundamental ideas. Allan. 142. 67. See Medical care Hedonism. 95-96. meaning of. 142. 24-25.206 Equality (continued) fundamental comparison. 163 Federalists.119-120. 110 Four-stage sequence. 3. See also Citizens. 142. 98n First fundamental comparison: quite con­ clusive. 10-11. 43-44.123. not a constitutional essen­ tial. 161. 190 Fair system of cooperation: as fundamental idea. 95-96. and reciprocity. See also Primary goods Gutmann. of political virtues. on minimum u content of natural law. realized in property-own­ ing democracy. and equal­ ity between men and women. avoids dif­ ficult points in theory of probability. 13-14 Good: conception of defined. W. idea of. ioon22 Hart. See also Women Gibbard. 6 1 . 1 5 3 . specified in original posi­ tion. secures basic rights and liberties. I07n Global justice: vs. 95-96. 50. See Original posi­ tion Fair equality of opportunity: and associa­ tions.113-114. 113 Free speech. 1 6 9 . 133.14. 64-66. Original position. 16 Fair value of political liberties.176. 1 1 4 . and fair system of cooperation. no particular form of required. 8. of a society.167. David. as rationality. 26. 27. Citizens. 174. 163-166. 96. and difference principle. 140.163-167. 1 7 2 .123. 6. 11. and liberal equality. 97-98. and so­ cial contract tradition. 14. 96. of society as social union of social unions. permissi­ ble conceptions of. used to formulate political conception ofjustice. Public justification. 52. 13.. 44. I98n. 51. 5-6. vs. and background institutions. allocative justice. 20in. and medical care. 101.132. and idea of well-ordered society. 47. nature of.1 5 4 .167.: reply to. Fair equality of opportunity Fair agreement. 19. and domestic justice. 10. 202. 157-158 Health care. and equality.119. and taxa­ tion. See Political liberties Family: as part of basic structure of society. 96. and the family. 4. 14-15. Fair system of cooperation. William. pre­ vents more advantaged from exploiting their market power. 102110. 1 1 2 . C . 112 Head taxes. L A.34n. 1 Fellner. 42n. 123. 1 4 1 . H. See also Citi­ zens Freedom of association. 95-96. argument stated. 96. I45ni5. bound indirectly by princi­ ples ofjustice. Amy. gives reasoning for first principle. and propertyowning democracy. sequence of. little support to dif­ Index ference principle. his criticism of account of liberties in Theory. 11. specified by principles ofjustice. compares two principles with principle of average utility. 1 7 3 174 Freedom: outer limit of. 1 6 3 ^ 2 Gender: and difference principle. and ideas of the rea­ sonable and rational. 4 8 . 52. 105 Hegel. See Citizens Gauthier. 95. congruence with the just. 11. 141-142. 97. 111-112. more fundamental than second comparison.163168. justice of basic structure. G. i6n. essential to background justice.162-166. 144 . i99n Harsanyi. debates with Anti-Federalists. relation to idea of equality. 7.172. F. 97 Gay and lesbian rights. and Kant's view. and distribution of wealth. .

198199. i6n. principle of Justice between peoples. ex­ cludes use of rigid designators. 5611. on world government. L. David. 143. See Global justice Least advantaged: defined. 69 Inequalities: most fundamental. 177 Liberty: conflict with equality. question it answers. See Global justice Interpersonal comparisons: and primary goods. 65-66. 72-74. 1. as a political conception not a compre­ hensive doctrine. 26n2i. 64-66. Gauthier. Wilfried. Anthony. See also Bu­ chanan. James. 1 9 1 . 67-69. positive. Stability Justice between generations. 175 Intrinsic reasonableness.19711 Hurley. uses three points of view. Nozick. 148.187190. See Just sav­ ings. 3n2. 2n. 54. 40-41. nonideal the­ ory. 59. explanation of name. See also Citizens. Thomas. Richard. concern with stability. 1 9 4 . 30. 65. I42n8 Kelly. social unity derives from an overlap­ ping consensus. reasons for regulating. 3 9 40.122. 39-40. 188-189. 185. of race and gender. Saul. an ideal social process view. 5-6. Erin. historical pro­ cess view. not a rigid designator. 54. 199. David. 34 Institutional division of labor.19. a form of political liberalism. 183116 Hobbes. right.. 13. 16. 139 Legitimate expectations.41. 82n2. 78. io8n Law of peoples. as realistically Utopian. principle regulating. 83.31 Intuitionism: as a comprehensive doctrine. 50.134. psychology. not utilitarian. uses idea of public justification. 60. 54 International law. 130-132 Inquisition: not an accident. position in well-ordered society quite satisfactory. Robert Liberties: of the moderns vs. as form of contract doctrine. 128. and desert. 179 Liberal principle of legitimacy. 99-100.148. 40. 2. 54. 57 Ideal theory: defined. 69. 5. 148 Justice as fairness: companion fundamental ideas. and public political culture. vs. identified by income and wealth. not part of theory of ratio­ nal choice. io6n Ideal social process view: and institutional division of labor. Political philoso­ phy. See also Political conception ofjustice. I35n2 Laden. 13.Index Hinsch. 42-43. 107-109. relies on norma­ . 82112. R. as main concern. S.34. cen­ tral idea of. role of primary goods in. 77. negative vs. I53n27. 12. principle of. in life-pros­ pects affected by three contingencies. 1 5 6 . and priority of the Hume. vs. and conception of political jus­ tice. 13. allocative justice. 33. See Political legitimacy Libertarian.. objections. 181-183. not po­ litical in the wrong way. and basic capabilities. 28.29. See Entitlements Leisure time. support of overlapping consensus not guaranteed. Principles of justice as egalitarian. See Global justice Just savings. aban­ dons ideal of political community based on shared comprehensive doctrine. 14. comprehensive doctrine of. 81-82. 29. and background justice. as free-standing view. 66. 72. vs. procedural neutrality. I2n. 14. are owed reciproc­ ity. 5. 37. as focus of overlapping consensus.59n26. 2. Immanuel: on orientation in political philosophy. practical aim of. 22n Kripke. 55. 13. neu­ trality of aim vs. permitted when effective. 97 Judicial review.161 Howe.182. 59. its primary subject. 108-110 207 tive conception vs. 1 6 9 170. 130-132. 45n. 5. rejects civic humanism. 159-161 Kant. the ancients. 1 9 8 . 59n26 Krouse. two reactions to excessive strains of commitment. 59n26.

question of ownership does not arise. 181.: comprehesive doctrine of. 143.194. 169-170. on ideology. enablements. 1 Moral desert vs. J. 46n9. 14-15 Murrell.158. John: on toleration. I35n2 Meade. 192 Lincoln. 124. 121-122.157.170-175. not gen­ eral principle of rational decision.195-198. 79. his critique of liberalism. I26n McPherson. Index stationary state. 173-174. E. 144 Markets. 157-158. 104-105. 101-104. 99. 58. procedural.111-112. I53n27. Niccolo. two: defined. 148. and third condition. more valuable than political liberties.194-195. i6on39 Maximin rule: not used to argue for differ­ ence principle. S. 195-198. 115. 173.112-113. principles of: defined. as good. and moral powers.96. and associations. 45. I03n27 McClennen. 76. 200. of aim vs. and primary goods. Thomas. ordinary power. 8gn. 18-19. as part of social minimum. 85. to overcome ide­ ology.191. 75-76. 75. 154. as constitutional essential. 117. on family. and primary goods.159. 57. See Citizens Moral powers. Karl. 6on28. on regulating bequest and inheri­ tance. 176-179 Montesquieu. ideal social process view. 11-12 Locke. Martin. as primary good. See also Citizens Moral psychology: and political virtues. our place in distribution of not deserved. con­ strained by principles for the basic struc­ ture. idea of society in a just Natural rights doctrine: as a political con­ ception. Peter. distribution of to be regulated by difference principle.176.196. distribu­ tion of regarded as common asset. re­ liance on psychological principles. Frank. 3 3 . objection to Bentham.169. and burdens of judgment. on bases of political power. as heuristic device. and education. Moral pow­ ers Moral persons. .198. 2. See also Original position. and difference principle. 131 Marx. 11. differences in exer­ cise and development of. 170. on political values. on worker-managed cooperative firms. 188 Machiavelli. 11. See Citizens. Special psychologies Moral realism. bias. 11. 131. ideal historical process view vs. 31. 1 9 7 9 8 _1 and utilitarianism.1 9 3 . and the handicapped. R. i8gn Modus vivendi. 122. 4n. vs. and basic liber­ ties. and question of stability. may change over time into an overlapping consensus. 29. 45. on liberty vs. i62n Mill. 33.169. E.113.34. 78. 43n3. 178. applies under three con­ ditions. 45. 16. 72-73. 156. 173. l. Charles de. 170 Michelman. l6n. 135m Media. and legislative stage. two fundamental cases. 114. J. 64. 176. 156. equality. See also Entitlements Moral personality.169. and property rights.112-114. I53n28. differences in. access to. Michael. 94-95. 147148. 97n. defined. 119. 74-75. as fundamen­ tal interest. 149 Medical care: right to. on constituent vs. social contract doctrine of. developed within basic structure. 160-161. 52-54 Luther. forces par­ ties to focus on fundamental interests. and basic capabilities. 166. 192. and head taxes.208 Liberty of conscience: and Wars of Reli­ gion. 9 Neutrality: of aim injustice as fairness. differences in citizens' need for. I76n59 Native endowments: not fixed natural as­ sets. and fundamental interests. n 8 n Nagel. and the reasonable. 1 9 2 . i82n. 144. 28. and restrictions on. I53n27.147M8 Local justice. 171-172. 58. 98-99.. 97-98. 24. 1. companion powers. on associative goods. Abraham. 191. 56-57.

6 9 ^ 7 . 1 0 5 . 3211. and liberalism. 26. why introduced. i6n. I23n Pluralism. 193-195. conception of. Orlando. E.1 1 0 . . 16. 97 209 121. 102-103. and primary goods. 20.160.41. question it answers. i86n8. 84. 87. 185-186. 88. 81-82. 83. 181-183.174.184. 34-35. 181. similarity to Kant's categorical imperative. 16. and deductive reasoning. 12. has support of an overlapping consensus of irreconcilable comprehensive doc­ trines. not a happy coincidence.. 19. See also Justice as fairness. not designed as bal­ ance between existing comprehensive doctrines. 81. third feature: drawn from public political culture. 9. See Citizens Phelps.190 Political conception of justice: and agree­ ment. Susan Moller. most reasonable basis of so­ cial unity.32.183. 3 3 . keeps track of assumptions.36-37. 121.33. 80. 32. 81. contract view of.148. 32. 86. 34. 29. and features of politi­ cal conception. three fea­ tures allow an overlapping consensus. 198. necessary psychology included. Political con­ ception of justice Pareto efficiency.190. 8 4 . meaning of. vs.13J}134. aim of. Modus vivendi. 151-152 Permissible conceptions of the good.184. 88.197 Original position. 14-15.32. i6on39 Patterson.32. second feature: does not presuppose accepting any par­ ticular comprehensive doctrine. not Utopian. 192-193. 76.26-27. 85. 194-195. we may enter at any time. and need for simplification.188-189. 18. 1 6 3 ^ 5 . as device of representation.Index Nozick. and conditions for fair agree­ ments.8 5 .199. 24n Peffer. parties not especially averse to uncertainty. does not fully specify primary goods. first feature: applies to basic structure. models equality of citizens.33.181. 83n. second Perfectionism: as a comprehensive doctrine. Derek.180-181. 28. 16. 9.18.37. 128-129. 15. vs. 1 0 2 .201. 186. 14. fact of Political. See Good Person. 86..199.37. 83. principles chosen from list. 60.181. citizens have their own fur­ ther grounds for.187-188. 44n7 parties not self-interested.1 0 7 . R. 81. 1 6 17. 106-107. 8889. 89. 110. G. 32.109-110. 61. hypothetical and nonhistorical. 17-18. related to idea of public justification.190. i66n49. 97. 89-90. 80.188. how it might come about. 79. vs. leads to view of distribution of endowments as common asset. 82. 85-86. 26-29. generalizes idea of social contract. Sec­ ond fundamental comparison. 85. argument has two parts. modus vivendi. 1 8 7 .183. as fundamental idea.133. a com­ prehensive doctrine. 16.189. vs. 84. and veil of ignorance. 10. 172. 1 0 8 . 103-104. parties not moved by special psychologies. parties are artificial persons. 52n. 3 7 . 95. 190-191. and stability. objections to justice as fairness. 17. includes agreement on standards of public reason. parties must weigh strains of commitment. fundamen­ tal interests take priority. Locke. 83. 53nig. and conception of justice. Veil of ig­ norance Overlapping consensus: justice as fairness as focus of. 33. and constitutional essentials. fact of.110. aims of parties as trust­ ees. See also First fundamental comparison. 83. role of idea of agreement.183. and publicity condition. 87. 192-195. not used in Theory. 14-15. 34. not designed as part concerns psychology of citizens. 6in29 Parfit. S. 175-176.197-198. to resolve constitutional es­ sentials. models our considered convictions. as most reasonable basis of so­ cial unity. 1 8 9 . 37. must fulfill pub­ lic role. 27. Robert. domain of. 9.30. 30. See Reasonable pluralism. and con­ cept of the right. and model case. 86.195. 12.187.29. argu­ ments in economics and social theory. 33. 1 8 2 . 1 0 6 .167 Oppression. Okin. eliminates bargaining advantages.

and leisure time. fundamental question of.182. fundamental status in is equal citizenship. 183.170. two ways to specify. objections to.8 . not merely formal. 60. 93-94. 56. vs. 185. 61.186 Political liberalism: and comprehensive doctrines. 88. belongs to a moral conception. 93-94. 3 . to regulate inequalities.175.198. not discussed in Theory. 52. 186. as great values. 202. 181-183. 10-11. 112. 8-9. given by reference to objec­ tive features.182. as free-stand­ ing. and orientation. 94ni5. 40. examples of. Political phi­ losophy Political judgments: subject of reasonable disagreement. 182. do not ap­ ply direcdy to associations or the family. 136. 37. See also Moral powers. 9 4 . as a fair system of cooperation be­ tween free and equal citizens. 122. not easily overridden. 7 . 59-60. apply to basic structure. income and wealth not identified only with personal income and private^ wealth.169-170. part of domain of the moral. 123. 76.105. to justify use of public funds. 4. 73. 88.116. 189-190 Political philosophy: practical role of. 134.161. its educa­ tional role. 41.194 Primary goods: defined. and primary goods. wide role of.146-147. 60. how possible. 198202. 40. 37-38.141. 28. not arbitrarily biased. 84 Political values: two kinds. 42-43. cannot show superiority of any compre­ hensive doctrine. 153-157. not voluntary. and two roles of basic structure. 84. See also Justice as fairness.169. 14.4n. 1 1 . 152. 4 . 41-42. 172. two Principles ofjustice: role of. 51. 64. 189. index is of expecta­ tions over a complete fife. i l l . 117. five kinds. not specified fully in original position. 89-92.210 Political conception ofjustice (continued) balance between existing comprehensive doctrines. problem they solve. 941114. 179. 60. and reconciliation. fundamental question of.182 Political society: not a community or an as­ sociation. content of two. less valuable than liberty of con­ science. 20. 132.163-164. 1 9 8 - 200. . 189.32. 57-58. 190. flexibility of index of. 7-8. 43-45. practical aim of. 1 8 2 . 1 3 .40.151.146-148. comprehensive liberal­ ism. 53. 4. lib­ eral principle of. 40-41. as whether reasonable.185. not applied moral philosophy. and stability. 14. 36 Political justice. belong to a partial conception of the good. good of. 1-2. 48. 132. Index Political power: as coercive power of citi­ zens. 40. used to set­ tle constitutional essentials.141.170.190. 4 . 46. 190. 28-29. 41-42. many ways to cohere with comprehensive doctrines. 183-184. and interpersonal comparisons. 170-176.125-126. 171.179. compatible with classical republi­ canism. influence on public political culture. 78. 144. 112-113. as social union of social unions. 153157. 58-60. fair to free and equal citizens. 189-192 Political liberties: and moral powers. as realistically Utopian.182.188-189. and considered con­ victions. part of political concep­ tion. 115. 172-173. 177. 59. shares of specified by index. 168-169. 172. 45.193. I76n. 61. and worth of po­ litical liberties. 91. their fair value.195. essential to background justice. priority of first principle (equal liberties). $ . 20-21. as ideo­ logical. defined. do not abstract from basic ca­ pabilities.148-150. 20in Political legitimacy: problem of.177. must take into account economic efficiency. 3. 125. and argument for in first fundamental case. 148-149. and distribution of wealth. 4n. 58-60. 153. 143.188-190. how arises. 46-47. 58-59.172 well-ordered. 7-8.190 Political relationship: its special features.141. 1 7 2 .183-184. revisions to. 176. 90. and distribution of wealth. 169-176. 149. re­ lation to nonpolitical values. 3. 40-41. differences in expectations of.

and political virtues. 25.194. and fair value of po­ litical liberties. 200. and normativity of political conception. defined.148.32. and constitutional regime.Index 192. Constitutional essentials. its great values. 27. 90. 185-186 Public reason: and public justification. 138-139. and priority of liberties. most legislative questions. 159. 1 8 6 . 190 Pure procedural background justice. 28-29. 89-90. values of. proceeds from some consensus. con­ ditions for its possibility.115-117. and polit­ ical will.168. 2 6 2 7 . as constitutional regime. political vs. 101. 14. See Background justice . 113-114. and public political cul­ ture.116. their institu­ tional content. foster political virtues. meaning of. express political values. right to. 136. 56-57. 86.33. values characterizing. 138139. 78.188. role of in first fundamental comparison. 88. and educational role of political conception. 89. real­ izes fair system of cooperation. and fair equality of opportunity. 117. publicity of. vs. vs. 48. agreement on them has two parts. 91. is addressed to others who disagree with us.184. 25. priority of liberty and head taxes. part of original agreement. as source of politi­ cal conception ofjustice and public jus­ tification. See Background justice Property. 114-115.150. chosen from list. 29. 122. 121-122. not specified by comprehensive doctrines or disputed economic theories. 26. comprehensive ideas of. i86n8. 41.146-147. 29. 90. 166 Procedural justice. 29. 27. and support of art. aims to preserve social co­ operation on footing of mutual respect. 91-92. Differ­ ence principle. 28-29. 122. 48. 27. 140. 167. 51. 148. three levels of in well-ordered society (full publicity).156. capital accu­ mulation may cease. to determine content of social mini­ mum.116.146. compatible with worker managed firms. 118. Equal basic liberties. 117. 28.186. must be acceptable on due reflection. encourages political virtues. 8n. 132. 1 8 8 . 149. 86. and citizens' self-con­ ceptions. satisfies two principles. 185-186. 152.141. 130. 78. 116-117. 21. 103-104. 91-92. how content may vary. 92. and public reason. 8. wide vs. argument for them has two parts. its eco­ nomic institutions. 93. compatible with property-owning democracy and liberal socialism. and abortion. Second fundamental comparison Priority of liberty. 89. 211 27. nonpublic rea­ son. See also Background justice.121. 27.180-181. not derived from rationality alone. general and universal. and restrictions on free speech. distinguished from mere agree­ ment. 148. 116-118. capitalist welfare state. First fundamental comparison. and background justice. 5. and liberal principle of legitimacy.122.117. 138-139. See Principles of justice Private sphere: if exempt from justice then no such thing. contains a variety of possible organizing ideas. 146-148. Reason­ able Public justification: as fundamental idea. 132. inclusive view. 78.32. 91. 158. their stability.170. liberal socialism.125-126. and overlapping consensus. practical aim of reasonable agree­ ment. 126. 27.139-140. 112-113. 158-162. 178 Psychology. 82n2. 26.37. 135-136. influence of political concep­ tion on.34-35. See Moral psychology. 27. 9 in. rea­ sonable comprehensive doctrines can be introduced. 176. 105. 95.146 Public political culture: and fundamental ideas ofjustice as fairness. 6 . 83. should be reasonably simple.177 Property-owning democracy: vs. aims for full equality of women. 29. overlapping consensus as feature of. 27. 90ni2. and political virtues. and stability ofjustice as fairness. holds for constitutional essen­ tials vs. not simply valid argument from given premises. and social mini­ mum. 1 9 . 145. secure citizens' funda­ mental interests.

151. social bases of: as primary good. true.188. 7n. the rational. 32. I96ni6. Moral pow­ ers.. utilitarianism violates requirements of. 95-96. 136. and basis of social unity. M . 197. 99. 82. 29-30.188 Risk aversion. W. gen­ Scheffler. 192 Regimes: five kinds. and whether political liberalism is biased. 63. 34n Sandel. 64. 134. 58n24. See also Citizens. 21.132. 62. not acknowledged in Theory. 187 Reciprocity. idea of not explicitly de­ fined. 201 Rightness as fairness. 58n24. 1 2 3 - Right: priority of. 26-29. reply to. 30-31. vs. 82.178 Rational: idea of. on inequalities. 95.191-192.191.126. 136. and reconciliation. 7n. and publicity. 49. 1311150. 5. as permanent condition. 155-156. as both principle and disposi­ tion.191. the reasonable. gives reasoning for dif­ ference principle. I56n Realistic Utopia.40. 77. J. 124126 Self-respect. 199. 2. 82.122-124. 9 6 . 95-96. 62. vs.13 Reasonable: idea of. 137. 59. and capitalism. 123. Quentin. situated between impar­ tiality and mutual advantage.122-124. i85n 124. Samuel. 81. 64-66 Index eral and full. Virtues Reasonable pluralism. 120-122. 31. J. 96. M.122. J. four questions about. uncertainty. 66-72. utilitarianism. I23n Second fundamental comparison: less con­ clusive. 31. 6.. 60. 87. 139. 60. 35. and overlapping consensus. 77. unreasonable doctrines.4gn. as great value. 7n. 96. compares two principles with principle of restricted utility. 6-7. Joseph. and reasonableness of political conception. 77. 195-198 Reasonableness. 9. vs. and special psychologies. 581124 Race. 30. 6-7.141. See Special psychologies Risk vs. 114 Sen. objection to primary goods. 95.212 Rabinowitz. and prior­ ity of liberties. least advantaged are owed. and second fundamental compar­ ison. and political ideas of the good.32. ideal institutional de­ scription of. self-respect as an attitude. 9 m . 29. and reciprocity. entidements express principle of. 4. and equal-justice lines. two Sibley. 95-96 . 4. 47n. nonfoundationalist. 141. difference principle as form of.36. means democratic society cannot be a community. idea of not explicitly defined. vs. 36. 60. 1651148 Scanlon. 7n. 82. vs. and so­ cial contract tradition vs. 189. and intrinsic reasonableness of our judg­ ments. 87 Raz.33-34. wide. 136-137. and stability. 84. Thomas. 189-190. 25. Joshua. 3n3. 6. I44ni3 Social contract tradition: its idea of society. as moral idea. vs. 3-4. and ideas of the good. 186. 196 Reflective equilibrium: idea of connects with public justification.196. 115. 7. I42n8. 6-7. . no agree­ ment on moral desert. 7n Sidgwick.190. See also Con­ sidered judgments.133.193n Schelling. testing counterexamples to justice as fair­ ness. between efficiency and equality. rules out com­ prehensive doctrines as basis for agree­ ment. 183. 136.133. 60. 87 Skinner. 73. utilitarianism. 106 Roemer. 108-110 Rousseau.117.15. and con­ sistency of considered judgments. 81. 168-169.. Henry. Michael. psychology of. Intrinsic reasonable­ ness Reformation. Amartya. narrow vs.130. 138. principle of eq­ uity. See Reasonable. T. 120. 96.143ml St. fact of. need not imply philosophical skepticism. and political conception ofjustice. i30n. Augustine. and practical aim of political conception. his civic humanism. and property rights. 169-176 Sense ofjustice: involves an intellectual power. how it comes about. 50. 76-77.

24-25. 89.186. and political legiti­ macy. 28. See also Mill. 115-117.192-193 Uncertainty vs. would re­ quire oppressive sanctions of state power. 95-96. maintained by public agreement on constitutional essentials. 87. various ways of fixing terms of.18. 6. See also Utilitarian­ ism Veil of ignorance: defined.119. 127-128. 15.144 Toleration. 14. not sim­ ply a matter of avoiding futility. 87. 138. Charles. 107-109. average principle of de­ fined. 125-126. and second fundamental comparison.180.186. 185. 25. and allocative justice. restricted principle and idea of social minimum.194. not necessar­ ily incorrect. idea of not understood through deductive ar­ gument. 106 Unreasonable views. 213 97. 160-162 Taylor. command economy violates two principles. J. and public justification. and con­ sidered judgments. and moral psychology. duty of . vs. 96.110. See Political concep­ tion of justice Special psychologies: which. 6. rights restricted for greater good. Alexis de. socially coordinated activity. 125. 6. and excessive strains of commitment. 25.195-198.115.110.101. 48. 185.191. vs. 156. Utility Utility: average principle of vs. vio­ lates requirements of reciprocity.183.181. 178. 122. 1. 146 Taxation. 128-129. 100. 9. 198-202 Strains of commitment: and choice of prin­ ciples in original position. and satisfaction of desires. and rational advantage.195. principle of. lib­ eral is compatible with two principles.Index Social cooperation: fair terms of. I3in49. 184 Utilitarianism: as a political conception. and formal equality.110. 115. idea of.190. 128130 Strict compliance theory. 28. See Ideal theory Sunstein.150. 181. three requirements for. extreme demands on less ad­ vantaged. 34. 116-118. and public political culture. question of. ioon22.195. 96. 129. See also Fair system of cooperation Socialism. 120. and worker-managed firms. 58n24 Tocqueville. 168.116-118. 181.136. permits knowledge of general facts and circumstances. judicial. all pleasures intrinsically good. 6. as a comprehensive doctrine. re­ stricted principle vs.194. I42n8 Teitelman. and reasoning about jus­ tice. average principle allows unac­ ceptable outcomes. and education. implies no basis for estimating prob­ abilities. Cass. excessive in utilitarianism. 166.117.115117. and public reason. io8n. 87.163. and good of political society. 100. constitute a public good. See also Civility. 127. 88. See also Origi­ nal position Virtues: political. restricted principle lacks idea of reciprocity. 103-104.181. well-ordered so­ ciety specifies idea of. difference princi­ ple. parties not moved by them. indeterminacy of restricted principle. idea of as se­ quence of fundamental ideas. 95-96. 124-126. social minimum in restricted principle vague.178. of citizens. social con­ tract tradition. removes bargain­ ing advantages. 126. and public rea­ son. I03n26. 120-130. 110.184. 128-130. is unstable. 122. and overlapping consensus. 102. 81. risk.104. basis of. 114. relies on sympathy. 88-89. 87. 30. equality and reci­ procity accounted for only indirectly.106-107. 170-171. and liberty of conscience. idea of. 183.104. 126. Michael. 202 Stability: of principles ofjustice.104-106. 116. 127. 110. 9..142. 118. se­ cured by motivation of the appropriate kind. 87. and four-stage se­ quence. 50.187. 183.101. 177. 98. its idea of society. 63. S. have role in public life. 92. 95. 121. as reasonable condition.184. two princi­ ples. 138-139 Social unity. restricted principle defined.

provides mutually recognized point of view.14. Bernard. specifies idea of social cooperation. I54n29 Weitzman.198-202. 26. 117.199. 7n Women: equality of and abortion. Martin. Marx's idea of a full communist society. stabil­ ity of. 64. and equality at highest level. account of in Theory based on com­ prehensive doctrine. 132. 72n Well-ordered society: fundamental idea of as companion idea. 1271147 Wars of Religion. particular meanings. 5. 1 Weber. 199 Williams. 199. position of least ad­ Index vantaged in. equal justice for. Max.146. as a political good. 31. 9. and public justification. 186-187. 142. See also Gender . 9. 9. regulated by public conception ofjustice. 9. Jeremy. three fea­ tures of. 163-165. end of po­ litical justice is among citizens' most ba­ sic aims. as just stationary state. 125. an idealization. vs. general vs. three levels of pub­ licity (full publicity). 27. 177. 99-100.214 Waldron. not a private society. 8. 121-122. 8.

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