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Title: Value and justice : property, economic theory and Rawls
Author: Bradford, W.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2001
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The thesis examines a particular contention made by John Rawls with regard to his account of the derivation of the principles of justice. In both A Theory of Justice and Political Liberalism Rawls maintains that the specification of property rights over the means of production is not part of the question of justice, but should rather reflect the customs and traditions of particular societies. It is argued in the thesis that this position cannot be maintained within the context of Rawls's overall argument. In particular, it is contended that Rawls's position on this reflects his uncritical reliance on Koopmans's Three Essays on the State of Economic Science (in which institutional detail such as the specification of property rights over the means of production is explicitly characterised as irrelevant) as a statement of the 'laws' of economics presumed known to those in the Original Position. The assumptions made by Rawls in constructing his argument, particularly his account of the circumstances of justice, are shown to reflect the strong, and in the context of Rawls's account, damaging assumptions underlying Koopmans's theoretical framework. These include the exclusion of preferences over work and the assumption that efficiency is unrelated to property rights specifications. Furthermore, it is demonstrated that these problems reflect a deeper issue: the theory of value upon which economic theories rest. The works of Luigi Pasinetti are employed to show the importance, for Rawls, of the distinction between theories based on exchange and those based on production. The latter are more suited to Rawls's project, and an example of them, Pasinetti's 'natural' system, is shown to be more suitable than Koopmans's framework as an account of economic theory in the Original Position.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available