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Title: Political equality, firm size and the choice of social system : a Rawlsian recovery of a neglected ideal-type?
Author: Wilesmith, J. P.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7223 7920
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2017
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Recent years have seen a resurgence of interest in the evaluation of models of political economy in normative political theory. These debates raise questions of both a substantive and a methodological nature. On the substantive side, an important question is 'What restrictions, if any, need to be placed on corporations and other types of firms in order for a social system to conform to the demands of justice?' From a methodological standpoint, a central question is 'How should we conceive of the choice between different types of political economy or social system?' These are the two main questions that I shall address in this thesis, offering my answers in three parts from a broadly Rawlsian perspective. In Part I, I address the methodological question and defend a flexible approach to evaluating social systems that allows for 'recombinant possibilities'. In Parts II and III, which make up the bulk of the thesis, I turn my attention to the substantive question. In Part II, I set out the theoretical underpinnings of my argument. I argue that Rawlsians should include a principle of political equality within a lexically prior principle of justice, and then specify some constraints that this places on constitutional design. In Part III, I build on these arguments to make the case that the very existence of large firms poses a threat to the realisation of political equality, and therefore justice, regardless of whether they are owned by many small shareholders (as in a property-owning democracy) or controlled by their workers (as in a liberal socialist society). This concern about large firms has been largely overlooked by Rawlsians. Accordingly, I end with some suggestions as to how these theorists might usefully supplement their existing institutional recommendations by combining them with a neglected model of political economy.
Supervisor: Weale, A. ; McTernan, E. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available