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John RawlsDebating the Major Questions$
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Jon Mandle and Sarah Roberts-Cady

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780190859213

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190859213.001.0001

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The Dependency Critique of Rawlsian Equality

The Dependency Critique of Rawlsian Equality

(p.206) 11 The Dependency Critique of Rawlsian Equality
John Rawls

Eva Feder Kittay

Oxford University Press

In this chapter, the author revisits her dependency critique of John Rawls’s political theory. She argues that, in conceiving justice in terms of voluntary associations between equals, Rawls neglects the reality of human dependence and interdependence. She argues that there are five areas where Rawls’ conception of equality is inadequate for addressing dependency. First, Rawls mistakenly accepts Hume’s circumstances of justice. Second, Rawls mistakenly accepts the assumption that citizens are all “fully cooperating” members of society. Third, the theory of justice mistakenly presumes that people are free in the sense that they are a “self-originating” source of valid claims. Fourth, the chapter argues that Rawls’s list of primary goods is not adequate for meeting the needs of those giving and receiving care. Fifth, Rawls begins with a concept of social cooperation that presumes equality between those who cooperate. The chapter argues that with each of these assumptions, important concerns about dependency are omitted.

Keywords:   Rawls, dependency, dependency critique, social cooperation, equality, justice, social justice

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