Front Page Titles (by Subject) Rawls\'s Methodology - Literature of Liberty, April/June 1978, vol. 1, No. 2
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
Rawls's Methodology - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, April/June 1978, vol. 1, No. 2 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
About Liberty Fund:
This work is copyrighted by the Institute for Humane Studies, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia, and is put online with their permission.
Fair use statement:
“Discussion Review: Justice, Theory, and a Theory of Justice.” Philosophy of Science 44 (1977): 594–618.
This critical review of John Rawls's Theory of Justice concentrates on the methodology of the book's arguments and conclusions rather than on their substance. One strong objection would be Rawls's non sequitur about deriving the validity of social principles of justice from the act of choosing them. Rawls implies that what makes certain sorts of social acts right is that rational persons in an “original position” would choose for them to be considered as such. It is more plausible to contend that the reason why rational persons in the original position or in more realistic positions would choose them or reject them would be because they are philosophically right or wrong.
We might also attack the notion that unanimity is a reasonable or necessary condition for social systems based on an adequate theory of justice. This has implications for those who think that the requirements of justice can, in many cases, be met merely by having the affected parties in an interaction agreeing. Similarly this attack would affect those theories of justice that allow different principles to different groups of people.
Other difficulties in Rawls's book are: the undefended assertion that justice and truth are “the first virtues” of social institutions and theories, and the deductive status of Rawls's arguments.