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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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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 27 September 2020

Rawls’s Underestimation of the Importance of Economic Agency and Economic Rights

Rawls’s Underestimation of the Importance of Economic Agency and Economic Rights

(p.95) 5 Rawls’s Underestimation of the Importance of Economic Agency and Economic Rights
John Rawls

Jeppe von Platz

Oxford University Press

In Rawls’s justice as fairness, the moral powers of democratic citizenship are the capacity for a conception of the good and the sense of justice, and basic rights are those necessary for the development and exercise of these two powers. Since economic agency is not a power of democratic citizenship, economic rights are not basic. To libertarians, this relative devaluation of economic agency and economic rights is a mistake, since economic agency and economic rights are the main concerns of justice. This libertarian critique is correct: justice as fairness underestimates the importance of economic agency and economic rights. Yet libertarian critics mistake how we should care about economic agency and which economic rights are basic. The economic agency that matters for justice as fairness is the capacity to work together with others, and the basic economic rights are those that enable and protect this capacity.

Keywords:   economic rights, economic justice, justice as fairness, libertarianism, liberty, Robert Nozick, John Rawls, social democracy, John Tomasi, work

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