Talk:John Rawls

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Liberalism[edit]

This is a very biased article in favor of Rawls' ideas and importance - which is ironic since he dealt so much with justice. I'm guessing its due to the way in which he has been consumed by the vacuum of the legal community instead of the philosophical. Legal scholars might have little consideration or understanding of the rest of the philosophical history of ideas; regardless, they should be considered. It drastically needs a "Reception" section that discusses other philosophers' opinions and "Criticisms".

not sure I see the bias here, or how any of this article is somehow insensitive to "the rest of the philosophical history of ideas". Make your case here, or just go ahead and add your suggested section and see how things go.--Lorenking (talk) 22:54, 15 February 2012 (UTC)

Since Rawls is THE dominate figure in 20th century liberalism, it seems to make sense to have the liberalism box there, no? Vincent Vecera 18:57, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

Does the box help the reader to navigate RAWLS' contributions to liberalism? I think not... Why not create a Rawls specific template? (like at Steven Pinker or Richard Dawkins). In fact, I think I might just do that! Mikkerpikker ... 09:39, 8 February 2006 (UTC)
I've gone ahead & created a Rawls specific template Template:Rawls & I've added them the the relevant articles. Mikkerpikker ... 12:58, 8 February 2006 (UTC)

Abraham Lincoln as an influence?[edit]

Is this really accurate? I've never heard of it before. The link with Kant is accurage but not sure about Lincoln, he wasn't really a philosopher (from what I know about him, which to be fair isn't much).Cxk271 15:50, 25 August 2006 (UTC)

All of this kind of thing needs citation (and better reasoning behind it). There are way too many topics linked into this article that are actually tangential.--Levalley (talk) 18:06, 22 April 2009 (UTC)
In his Justice as Fairness: A Restatement, he does use Lincoln as an example of a politician utilizing certain elements of his Theory of Justice. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 128.135.100.102 (talk) 05:09, 18 January 2011 (UTC)

Date[edit]

Does anyone know the publication date for Political Liberalism? The article doesn't include one.

1993, see the Cambridge Companion To Rawls, p.316 --Paulus (talk) 23:47, 4 April 2010 (UTC)

John Rawls' photo[edit]

Please, could someone upload John Rawls' photo to the Commons? I'm from the Galician Wikipedia, and I could't find any image of him at Commons. Thanks. Gallaecio —Preceding unsigned comment added by 213.60.149.234 (talk) 18:34, 22 November 2007 (UTC)

I have to agree here. No doubt about it, this man is one of the biggest brains of the 20th century, and we can't even find a single image or illustration to show what he looks like... this is just like an Albert Einstein article without a picture of Einstein. I'll do whatever I can to find one but it seems a lot of these images are copyrighted. --m3taphysical (talk) 23:13, 9 December 2008 (UTC)

Minor additions and modifications[edit]

I've made some minor changes and additions here, but mistakenly did them before I was logged in. My additions were mostly editorial, and adding some substance to the section on Theory of Justice

The content looks okay, but grammar and style could be improved[edit]

Apologies for giving an opinion when none was asked for. I'm consulting this article for information, and find it useful (I have to translate a short text about Rawls). I won't edit it myself because I'm not familiar with the subject matter. But I thought I'd point out that stylistically and grammatically the article's text does have a few defects that I would hope someone who knows how to write could come in and fix. Sorry if that sounds like a negative remark, but I wouldn't have bothered making it unless I had thought the content good enough to make such a clean-up worthwhile, so please take it constructively! Alan --A R King (talk) 10:31, 26 December 2007 (UTC)

I've added a copyedit tag. I've asked some other people to work on this, too. It has many problems, and since it is ranked as a high importance article in philosophy, maybe someone will help with it. I'll be trying, too.--Levalley (talk) 18:07, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

What was Rawls' personal attitude towards religion and Free Will?[edit]

The Standford Ency. of Phil. merely notes that he lost his Christian faith as he witnessed the horrors of WW2. But did he remain a theist (or any other form of that) or become an atheist resp. if he was an agnostic, which position did he lean towards? More importantly, was he a dualist or monist concerning the relationship between mind and matter? It is important to know the development of his views, especially which positions he took while writing his works. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 91.11.245.180 (talk) 01:30, 22 May 2008 (UTC)

Rational and reasonable[edit]

In the "A Theory of Justice" section, the following words appear: "Human beings are, as Rawls puts it, both rational and reasonable." What is the difference between being rational and being reasonable? Lestrade (talk) 03:14, 4 July 2008 (UTC)Lestrade

The distinction is clarified in the remainder of the passage: we are rational in the sense that "we have ends we want to achieve," and we are reasonable insofar as "we are happy to achieve them together if we can, in accord with mutually acceptable regulative principles." If I have a chance I'll try to make this passage a bit clearer. Lorenking (talk) 20:24, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

Rawls and the Flintstones?[edit]

Are you kidding me? Where is the reference for that?--Turnerjl (talk) 18:50, 3 September 2008 (UTC)

It's nonsense. Can someone remove it please? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 58.111.127.91 (talk) 15:16, 7 September 2008 (UTC)

Rawls Provides for Property Rights[edit]

My concern with the author of this page is that Rawls did entertain property rights in the first principle of justice, see Wikipedia, A Theory of Justice, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Theory_of_Justice, yet the author of this page alleges that property rights are "notably absent," from the first principle in Theory . How can this author explain the discrepancy? Furthermore, this author or someone has the nerve to say that I vandalized his page -- hardly.

I just think it needs an explanation or some research, that is why I made the edit. How do I contact the admin here?

According to Rawls, the basic liberties of citizens are, roughly speaking, political liberty (i.e., to vote and run for office); freedom of speech and assembly, liberty of conscience and freedom of thought, freedom of property; and freedom from arbitrary arrest. It is a matter of some debate whether freedom of contract can be inferred as being included among these basic liberties. See Wikipedia, A Theory of Justice, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Theory_of_Justice.

The first principle is more or less absolute, and may not be violated, even for the sake of the second principle, above an unspecified but low level of economic development (i.e. the first principle is, under most conditions, lexically prior to the second principle). However, because various basic liberties may conflict, it may be necessary to trade them off against each other for the sake of obtaining the largest possible system of rights. There is thus some uncertainty as to exactly what is mandated by the principle, and it is possible that a plurality of sets of liberties satisfy its requirements. Id. Wjterry (talk) 10:25, 7 October 2008 (UTC)

I'm not "the author" of this page (there's no such thing around here, for better or worse), but I have been fiddling with this page here and there, and I think Wjterry is right on the specific point about property rights. Here's what Rawls says in TJ: "it is essential to observe that the basic liberties are given by a list of such liberties. Important among these are political liberty (the right to vote and to hold public office) and freedom of speech and assembly; liberty of conscience and freedom of thought; freedom of the person, which includes freedom from psychological oppression and physical assault and dismemberment (integrity of the person); the right to hold personal property and freedom from arbitrary arrest and seizure as defined by the concept of the rule of law. These liberties are to be equal by the first principle." (1999 ed., p. 53).
But there is an important distinction between Rawls and classical liberals, and especially Nozick's libertarianism. In Justice as Fairness: a Restatement (2001) Rawls again insists that "the right to hold and to have the exclusive use of personal property" is a basic liberty. But he links the importance of this right to "personal independence and a sense of self-respect, both of which are essential for the adequate development and exercise of moral powers" (114), and he denies that two "wider conceptions of the right to property" are similarly basic: first, "a right to private property in natural resources and means of production generally, including rights of acquisition and bequest" and second, "the right to property as including the equal right to participate in the control of the means of production and of natural resources, both of which are to be socially, not privately, owned." So Rawls is here distinguishing his characterization of the basic right to personal property from more libertarian or socialist formulations of that right.
I'll try to clean up this section, correcting the error Wterry identifies but capturing the subtleties of the position. Lorenking (talk) 05:15, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
    • Convincing Explanation **
Much thanks to Lorenking for explaining Rawls' idea of property rights and providing supporting authority cites. The distinction between Rawls and libertarians on property rights correlates with what I remember from my Ethics class. From what I recall, Rawls denies the libertarian proviso that an individual person should completely own her or his self as a basic liberty, where under the libertarian philosophy, ownership of self should entitle the individual to exclusive property acquisition/retention rights through the mixing of the individual's labor to acquire or retain. In contrast, Rawls' theory is a social contract approach, coming out of the "Original Position," where property rights, as a basic liberty, should be created, as quasi exclusive rights for purposes of personal autonomy and self respect, but qualified under social ownership, allowing individuals to agree on minimal limits of property rights and other matters like contract rights and taxation. Simply put, under Rawls, there is really no self ownership, raising the concerns of libertarians. Wjterry (talk) 08:10, 3 November 2008 (UTC)

Rawls contribution to welfare economics[edit]

This section seems a bit strange to me. Rawls doesn't really say that the welfare of society only depends on the welfare of the worst off, and in general the premise of the section seems a bit dubious: Rawls certainly draws on work in welfare economics, and Rawls certainly got attention in that field, but is TofJ really a contribution to welfare economics? I'm going to remove the section, with a brief explanation, but if people feel strongly then revert and we can discuss here. Lorenking (talk) 05:49, 8 October 2008 (UTC)

This article has evolved into a hodgepodge of difficult-to-edit claims and uncited viewpoints[edit]

I understand that Rawls is very important but, as with all "very important people," citations from secondary sources either 1) saying he's important (textbooks might do) or showing that he's widely discussed by other luminaries must be included.

First need, however, is to somehow make Rawls make sense. I've asked for help from some people on the Philosophy project, a couple of people have said that they'd try to do some more editing here.

Rawls is also controversial and that needs to be well-covered.--Levalley (talk) 18:11, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

It's hard to tell, for example, whether the claims made in the "Law of Peoples" section are good - as there are no citations. This is a problem throughout the article and may mislead the reader into thinking that what is written here is more or less what Rawls said. Some of the sections are confusing enough that it's hard to know what Rawls says from this article. Someone needs to write an introduction to his overall viewpoint and introduce terms to help the reader, otherwise the reader is going to be confused. I've read Rawls and sat in on seminars on his work, and this isn't making the best of sense to me, so it needs more clarity. It's a difficult article to write, it's on its way (it's better than many philosopher biographies) but its lack of secondary citations is troubling.--Levalley (talk) 18:16, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

The problems start in the section on moral and political philosophy (Contributions). This should contain some kind of overall statement about Rawls importance beyond "many people think he's important in academia." For example, who is he arguing for or against, of the philosophers who have come before him? Where does he connect up into the history of philosophy? I know he's important and I'm not disputing that, but we need to say why he's important, not just that people think he is. If his importance is based merely on what people think, then a citation on what people think is needed. If instead, it's based on his role or contributions to philosophy (and some would argue whether it was "moral philosophy" at all, I believe he used the term "political philosophy" throughout most of his career), then that role should be explained. This would take someone who is better versed in the field than I am.--Levalley (talk) 18:31, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

'Political Liberalism' section[edit]

This is more substantial than the 'main article' that is linked to at the top of the section. Should the case not be reversed with a simple overview of the publication in this article, John Rawls and a detailed explanation in Political Liberalism? --Paulus (talk) 23:53, 4 April 2010 (UTC)

Cleaning up a bit after recent edits and additions[edit]

Two suspect passages that I think should be removed:

- "Political Liberalism also presents Rawls's account of political constructivism, the metaethical procedure whereby political theorists construct principles by reassembling materials from the public political culture."

This is both confusing and misleading. Confusing, because the process described, while certainly consistent with Rawls's constructivist project, isn't a "metaethical procedure." Misleading because, while Rawls devotes considerable attention to Kantian constructivism in PL, the ways in which Rawls's approach to ethics is constructivist is evident right at the beginning of Theory of Justice.


- "Political liberalism has been partly modelled mathematically along Wright-Fisher's diffusion, classical in population genetics."

This nearly-incoherent addition is a ridiculously tangental technical point in the world of Rawlsiana. It has no place in an encyclopedia overview, and is just a bit of promotion - not helpful.

I'm going to remove these two passages. If people disagree, put them back and we can hash it out here. --Lorenking (talk) 22:54, 15 February 2012 (UTC)

"bat-like horror of the limelight"[edit]

Can someone give me a better reference than just "Rogers, 27.09.02" ??? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 146.50.144.255 (talk) 14:01, 4 December 2012 (UTC)

Alma Mater[edit]

Someone please include (I can't obviously) his alma mater in the info section - with particular care taken in including CHRIST CHURCH before Oxford University. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2.101.73.232 (talk) 01:25, 2 January 2013 (UTC)

Apparently, {{Infobox philosopher}} doesn't have a parameter for "Alma mater", so we can't add it either at the moment. FallingGravity (talk) 01:56, 2 January 2013 (UTC)

Possessive form of name[edit]

Is there any consensus on the correct form of "Rawls" in the possessive? Not that it is a major issue; however, I wonder if there is any definitive answer since both "Rawls'" and "Rawls's" are used within this article and other publications alike. RyanQuinlan (talk) 19:57, 14 January 2014 (UTC)

Why is editing of this reverted? It seems a bit - um... quirky? to have two different possessive forms within an article. I personally don't really care which form is decided on, but I really do think it should be consistent within the page. TMagen (talk) 12:23, 2 September 2014 (UTC)

Original research tag[edit]

Correct me if I'm wrong, but a lot of this reads like an analysis paper rather than an encyclopedia article. I think this article could use some more secondary sources. =\ --65.88.88.87 (talk) 17:23, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

Please elaborate more on that. There is an abundance of secondary sources on Rawls and they are used properly in this article. --Omnipaedista (talk) 08:59, 9 May 2014 (UTC)

Why are critiques discouraged?[edit]

How can you understand the context of a philosophy or movement without understanding relevant criticisms? TMagen (talk) 09:00, 1 September 2014 (UTC)

In the case of this particular article, it's worth noting that it's about Rawls, not about his philosophy. HiLo48 (talk) 09:10, 1 September 2014 (UTC)
A specious reply. Rawls is noteworthy only because of his philosophy. I think much of the material that was removed here was of benefit to the article and could be restored, whether in a "criticism" section or not. ImprovingWiki (talk) 22:31, 1 September 2014 (UTC)
My reply was definitely not intended to be specious. This, by definition, is a biographical article. In biographical articles we don't include criticisms of things people say or do during their lifetimes. If we did, many articles would become completely bloated with such things. You may want to look at the article on Rawls' most famous work, A Theory of Justice. That article does include a Criticism section (in violation anyway, I would have thought, of Wikipedia policy), but it may better serve your needs. HiLo48 (talk) 00:55, 2 September 2014 (UTC)
It is simply untrue that biographical articles do not include "criticisms of things people say or do during their lifetimes." See Sigmund Freud, for instance, or even Ayn Rand. There is no reason why this article should not include a reasonable amount of criticism of Rawls, in accord with the principle of due weight. ImprovingWiki (talk) 02:46, 2 September 2014 (UTC)
One really good reason is Wikipedia:Criticism sections, especially the second paragraph. HiLo48 (talk) 04:56, 2 September 2014 (UTC)
That's an essay, not policy, and not really relevant anyway, since the issue is whether the material should be in the article at all, not whether it should be included within a "criticism" section. ImprovingWiki (talk) 09:53, 2 September 2014 (UTC)
It's clearly hard for you to accept an answer you don't like, isn't it? HiLo48 (talk) 10:42, 2 September 2014 (UTC)
Hi again - the original asker. I don't see anything there that says there can't be a criticism section. The article is not really biographical - I didn't do a word count, but more than half the article is about his philosophical thought. If so much is geared to his philosophy it seems rather unreasonable that major critiques (especially ones he contended with directly, and even changed some of his writing due to their articulation - such as the feminist critiques) should be categorically excluded. TMagen (talk) 12:19, 2 September 2014 (UTC)
You say "I don't see anything there that says there can't be a criticism section." Precisely where I direct readers it says "Editors should avoid having a separate section in an article devoted to criticism..." Next? HiLo48 (talk) 21:13, 2 September 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── HiLo48's behavior on this talk page has become rude and tendentious, strange behavior indeed for the talk page of an article relating to philosophy, which is supposed to be about reasoned argument and discussion. I do not see a reason to respond directly to his comment above, but it seems increasingly clear that he has no valid reason for excluding material critical of Rawls. Perhaps bringing this situation to the attention of other editors would make progress possible. ImprovingWiki (talk) 21:07, 2 September 2014 (UTC)

You can bring it to the attention of as many as you like. They may be better able to read and comprehend the sentence that says "Editors should avoid having a separate section in an article devoted to criticism..." Calling me rude and tendentious for highlighting a guideline you don't like is, well, rude and tendentious, I would have thought. HiLo48 (talk) 21:13, 2 September 2014 (UTC)
You made a patronizing and insulting comment, which was not a reasoned response to what I had said. I had pointed out that you referred to an essay, which doesn't have the same status as a policy or guideline (did you miss the part reading, " Essays are not Wikipedia policies or guidelines"?) Your insult was not a relevant reply. ImprovingWiki (talk) 21:16, 2 September 2014 (UTC)
That essay gives lots of good reasons why Criticism sections are a bad idea. I have also given my own perspective. You don't seem to have responded to any of that. Just imagine if the articles on people like Barack Obama contained criticism sections containing all the things that people don't like about what he and his government have said and done... HiLo48 (talk) 22:13, 2 September 2014 (UTC)
Looks like I have to repeat myself here. I do hate doing that. I pointed out above that the important thing was that the criticism be included somewhere in the article, regardless of whether it was in a criticism section or not. Your only response was an irrelevant insult. ImprovingWiki (talk) 22:19, 2 September 2014 (UTC)
It's still obvious that you don't understand the problem with a Criticism section, because you have not accepted that it should not exist. HiLo48 (talk) 01:19, 3 September 2014 (UTC)
You are ignoring the central issue, which is whether the material should be in the article at all. I suspect that's deliberate. In any case, I've no interest in engaging in an endless series of exchanges with you, and will consider what else I can usefully do. ImprovingWiki (talk) 04:19, 3 September 2014 (UTC)
As I said right at the beginning, this article is about Rawls. Is it really him you want to criticise, or his philosophy, or publications, or...? We do have an article on A Theory of Justice. It does have a criticism section. HiLo48 (talk) 07:27, 3 September 2014 (UTC)
Nothing you've said above is a relevant reply; I don't see why I should endlessly repeat things I've already said, or respond to fake arguments. "Is it really him you want to criticise, or his philosophy" is a nonsensical statement; criticizing Rawls is criticizing his philosophy. ImprovingWiki (talk) 07:48, 3 September 2014 (UTC)
No, that's silly. One can criticise another for many things. Their tastes in fashion. The football team they support. Where they choose to live. Your position is obviously much narrower than that. HiLo48 (talk) 08:44, 3 September 2014 (UTC)
I've asked for help from the philosophy WikiProject. If someone there feels like helping, I might continue this discussion; I can't reply endlessly to pointless comments, like the one above, which is ludicrous, diversionary blather. I'm asking for a valid reason why criticism of Rawls shouldn't be included somewhere in this article, and I'm still not seeing one. ImprovingWiki (talk) 08:54, 3 September 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I came here from the request posted at the philosophy WikiProject. From my outsider's point of view, Wikipedia certainly welcomes criticism (with due weight) as part of a neutral presentation of, for instance, Rawls' philosophy. This is made explicit in the lead of Wikipedia:Criticism; and while this is an essay, most editors take its recommendations seriously. In the section Wikipedia:Criticism#Approaches to presenting criticism, there are alternative approaches to incorporating criticism into an article. The best is an integrated approach, where critiques are placed in the same sections as the assertions they are critiquing. In this way, the reader gets a balanced view of each point, rather than having to read separate pro and con sections and having to guess at the connections. TMagen, could you see your way to integrating criticisms into their respective sections, rather than as a separate Criticism section?

The second dispute is about which article(s) are the best place for adding critiques. I'm no expert on Rawls, but in any case, it would probably best to follow your sources. If the critique is about assertions in a book and that book has a separate article, it may be best to put it in the book article. If the aspect of Rawls' philosophy being critiqued is only discussed in this WP article, this may be the best place. --Mark viking (talk) 16:57, 3 September 2014 (UTC)

Thank you for your response - I certainly can see my way to doing it. TMagen (talk) 18:45, 4 September 2014 (UTC)

Sandel[edit]

Michael J. Sandel is a professor of political philosophy at the same university that Rawls taught at. Other than one of his courses, his claim to Wikfame is his critique of Rawls's work on liberalism. I think he/his criticism should be mentioned in the Rawls article. Kdammers (talk) 04:46, 15 January 2015 (UTC)