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Title: The coherence and defensibility of Rawls' law of peoples
Author: Maffettone, Pietro
ISNI:       0000 0004 2746 7671
Awarding Body: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Current Institution: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Date of Award: 2013
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In the last three decades, liberal political philosophy has been increasingly concerned with the nature and extent of the moral responsibilities of members of different political communities to each other. John Rawls contributed to this debate in his final book, The Law of Peoples (LOP). There, Rawls refused to extend his account of domestic distributive justice to international politics and argued that some non-liberal (yet decent) peoples can be members in good standing of the international community. Many of Rawls’ critics maintain that this evidences a double standard, and accuse LOP of being an incoherent extension of Rawls’ political philosophy to global politics. In this thesis I show that the opposite is true. I start by underlining the main discontinuities between Rawls’ accounts of domestic and international justice. I then show that these discontinuities can be explained by tracing the evolution of the idea of public justification in Rawls’ work. Rawls’ two theories of justice are the application of the same idea – public justification – in different political contexts. While the first three chapters are dedicated to the elaboration of this distinctive interpretation of LOP, the final two chapters address Rawls’ accounts of international economic assistance and international toleration. The thesis surveys a number of critical arguments against Rawls’ elaboration of his duty of assistance and his understanding of toleration based on reasonableness. It finds them all wanting, and strikingly off the mark: all seem premised on the idea that a just world is a substantively liberal-egalitarian one. Thus, Rawls’ critics fail both to properly attend to our limited abilities to change the global political landscape (not to mention the risks associated with such attempts) and to understand the implications of any sustainable account of toleration.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: JC Political theory ; K Law (General)