Up@dawn 2.0

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

(H1) A look into the work of John Rawls part II

In my previous post, I focused on his work with The Theory of Justice. And as we know, Rawls was a very influential philosopher because of his diverse theories and works. Rawls had far more works concerning society other than that of fairness structuring. Some of his other work with theories include items such as his 'Sequence of Theories', 'Ideal and Non-Ideal Theory', 'Reflective Equilibrium', 'Independence and Morality', and 'Legitimacy and Stability'. It is through these works that Rawls is able to dive deeper into society. He does not simply look at society as a whole,but he delves into the mentality and morality of the individual. This makes his work much more influential as it brings the reader to consider themselves rather than everyone as a whole.

To begin with, The sequence of Theories uses an overarching political domain to contrast with sub-domains in sequence. And using this structure, Rawls moves from the large international scale, to even animals. Furthermore, he addresses a "self-contained democratic society reproducing itself across generations". This democratic structure will be constructed over all sub domains. These sub domains would be further structures under the previous, however, perhaps containing other principles with which they are governed and operated. These establishments are in contrast with the utilitarian aspects of the political philosophy.

Additionally, Rawls' work in the political region includes the Ideal and Non-Ideal Theory. The Ideal Theory assumes two separate subjects. The first ideal theory establishes the assumptions that societies and citizens alike would chose to accept whatever laws are provided and that they would not war or commit crimes. The second, establishes that both society and citizen are in acceptable living conditions that their morality in decisions is affected. As in, citizens are not starving and a country is not failing. Using the ideal theory, we are able to deconstruct real society that is the non-ideal world and locate its faults. The Non-ideal theory focuses heavily on the ability to use the ideal society and citizen to recognize the faults in the non-ideal society or citizen, as well as establish the ability to use this reflection to adjust the characteristics of these non-ideal entities and make them ideal.

Furthermore, one of the more individualistic reviews that Rawls conducts is the Reflective Equilibrium Theory. By using this theory, one can assess their own political views and compare them to other beliefs they hold. It is a reflection on one own's political judgement and their ability to be equal in logic and reasoning as other. Using these judgments, one is able to draw upon conclusions for other topics related to the same matters and produce the same stance on them. For example, looking down upon slavery would also expect one to believe that everyone has basic rights, and vise versa. All of one's stances on political matters are suppose to be reflective and supportive of each other. One is to strive to have all of their judgement line up, however, this is not possible as perfect equilibrium is not attainable, believes Rawls. One must pursue a conformity of their believes. If a belief of there's conflicts with there preexisting template for judgement, they must alter that belief to get it as close to the others as possible, as this is the only way to justify one's beliefs. The closer one gets their beliefs, the closer they are to narrow reflective equilibrium, or a coherence of initial beliefs. The most unique part of this theory is the emphasis on one's ability to change their beliefs to better fit the mold established by the supportive construct of previous judgement.

The next theory combats a seemingly contradictory method and attempts to establish law over multiple beliefs, this is the legitimacy and stability theory. First off, in order for a society to be free and correct, every citizen is entitled to their own beliefs. No one is going to be entirely the same in moral and political belief. And it must be at the up most Democratic will that people are able to have their own differing opinions. However, when it comes to a society in whole, there must only be one, unifying law. Therefore, even if topics of gay marriage or religion differ from person to person, in a state there must be a set decision on every topic. However, Rawls understands that this would seem to have issues. The first, would be legitimacy. This raises the concern that if it is democratic for a state to impose its will on the individual. Should all citizens be coerced into a set belief even if it is against their own. Secondly, the issue of stability. How would it be possible for citizens to follow and obey laws established by the state which differ and maybe even contradict their own. However, it is necessary for this to be so, else there can be no law and order.

To confront the issue of legitimacy, Rawls turns to the subject of reason. It would be apparent that it would seem illegitimate for one individual to force their beliefs onto another. And in a democratic structure where only one stance must be established, such a problem arises. Therefore, it comes down to the requirement of reason. One citizen must reasonably belief that the law which they establish is the best for all. Additionally, it must be a reasonable assertion that others that may disapprove fully of a set law would be willing to follow it. People must be reasonably accepting of the enforcement of a set of laws established. And that political structures must be accepted freely and not require forceful domination for their enforcement. Therefore Rawls leaves the legitimacy issue up to citizens to be reasonable in their deciding of a law's ability to be enforced.

Such reasonable citizens would be in search of a proper cooperative society. A reasonable citizen would want a society where they would follow laws and those around them are also expected to follow the same laws to the same degree. Citizens would follow the laws even if it requires sacrifice, however, they acknowledge the greater good of a law. And it would also be expected that these reasonable citizens would also expect their fellow citizens to be reasonable and therefore not expect that fellow citizens conform entirely their own beliefs that they see as entirely true. They would also acknowledge that others have equally reasonable beliefs. It would be the fundamental requirement that all citizens attempt to reach a degree of compromise. An ideal outcome features mutually agreeable terms for both parties on each matter and law that comes to light.

Tolerance is a fundamental part of this ability for individuals of a society to be able to create the ideal scenario. Especially, for matters of religion and morality. Rawls states that these subjects are so deep that even those with some of the closest beliefs on political and social issues could have different religious and moral ideologies. It is imperative that citizens of a society understand that those in the society with them have differing ideologies and that these are also capable of being held by reasonable and good willed people. These issues are captured by his burdens of judgement. People use their collection of experience and upbringing to draw their own opinions on these matters and a reasonable citizen must be willing to respect and cooperate with them for the greater good.

It is with these social and political theories that Rawls was able to be just an influential philosopher of his century. Rawls seamlessly transitions between the philosophies of a social order and its inhabitants. He uses a wide variety of theories which have their own importance as well as a contribution to his over arching establishments. These theories span from matters of economy to state to an individual's ability to establish their own moral code and to apply themselves with others for the greater good of a society. Using these theories, Rawls paves the way toward what he sees as an ideal society of individuals with differing, but acceptable and reasonable ideologies.

Total Word Count: 2,504
References: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/rawls/
Comments on other's:


1 comment:

  1. I have to say, all this talk about domains and sub-domains (etc.) sounds like technical stuff that wouldn't lend itself to the wide influence Rawls achieved with "Theory of Justice". Something about that work struck a chord. I for one find the whole "veil of ignorance" thought experiment compelling, even though it really defies human nature as most of us think we know it, i.e., as forever self-interested. The "identity politics" debate would be irrelevant if we really could get people to suspend their specific identities in order to think more disinterestedly about principles of justice. We've got to keep trying.