Rawlsian Explorations in Religion and Applied Philosophy

Rawlsian Explorations in Religion and Applied Philosophy

DANIEL A. DOMBROWSKI
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 160
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5325/j.ctt7v67f
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  • Book Info
    Rawlsian Explorations in Religion and Applied Philosophy
    Book Description:

    To probe the underlying premises of a liberal political order, John Rawls felt obliged to use a philosophical method that abstracted from many of the details of ordinary life. But this very abstraction became a point of criticism, as it left unclear the implications of his theory for public policies and life in the real political world. Rawlsian Explorations in Religion and Applied Philosophy attempts to ferret out those implications, filling the gap between Rawls’s own empyrean heights and the really practical public policy proposals made by government planners, lobbyists, and legislators. Among the topics examined are natural rights, the morality of war, the treatment of mentally deficient humans and nonhuman sentient creatures, the controversies over legacy and affirmative action in college admissions, and the place of religious belief in a democratic society. The final chapter explores how Rawls’s own religious beliefs, as revealed in two works posthumously published in 2009, played into his formulation of his theory of justice.

    eISBN: 978-0-271-05544-2
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. vii-xiv)
  4. 1 RAWLS, NATURAL RIGHTS, AND THE PROCESS OF REFLECTIVE EQUILIBRIUM
    (pp. 1-19)

    Nicholas Wolterstorff’sJustice: Rights and Wrongs(2008) was hailed, on its dust jacket, by one notable critic as the most important work on the subject since Rawls’sTheory of Justicein 1971. Quite a compliment! Wolterstorff’s extremely interesting comments on Rawls raise important questions for how we should interpret Rawls’s work. Specifically, Wolterstorff provides a most useful frame for considering Rawls’s overall method of reflective equilibrium. He presses Rawls’s defenders to account for their belief that human beings are free and equal, a belief that is an integral part of any effort to achieve reflective equilibrium in liberal democratic political...

  5. 2 A RAWLSIAN VIEW OF WAR
    (pp. 20-41)

    The purpose of this chapter is to explicate Rawls’s views on war as they are scattered across several of his writings. That they are so scattered perhaps accounts for the paucity of scholarly attention paid to Rawls’s view of war, which has, for the most part, remained consistent over the decades.

    Three general positions are possible regarding the morality of war: (1) the just war position, which tries to determine and apply criteria for a moral war; (2) pacifism, which argues either that (a) war is not or cannot be moral, so one ought not to participate in it, or...

  6. 3 NUSSBAUM, MENTAL DISABILITY, AND ANIMAL ENTITLEMENTS: A RAWLSIAN PERSPECTIVE
    (pp. 42-65)

    In several of Martha Nussbaum’s recent writings she has expanded her concern for those historically left out of the male-dominated social contract (e.g., women, the mentally disabled) to include nonhuman animals (hereafter animals). Her own approach to animal entitlements is called “the capabilities approach,” which both borrows from and rejects certain aspects of both a utilitarian approach to animals and a rights-based approach. But her stance regarding the relationship between social contract theory and animals is almost entirely negative; here there is no borrowing. Because she knows Rawls’s thought well (indeed, her own political philosophy is heavily indebted to Rawls),...

  7. 4 A RAWLSIAN CRITIQUE OF LEGACY AND AFFIRMATIVE ACTION
    (pp. 66-89)

    In 1999 it came to light that the person who was to become president of the United States was a “C” student and had undistinguished scores on standardized tests (Mayer and Robbins 1999). How then did George W. Bush get admitted to Yale and then to Harvard? The answer apparently has to do with certain “legacy” considerations, namely, the consideration that his wealthy and influential relatives were alumni of these prestigious institutions. Likewise, in the 2008 presidential election it came to light that John McCain had graduated in the bottom 1 percent of his class at the Naval Academy. Why,...

  8. 5 “ALL FOR THE GREATER GLORY OF GOD”: WAS SAINT IGNATIUS IRRATIONAL?
    (pp. 90-109)

    Given the voluminous commentary on Rawls’s classicA Theory of Justice, it is surprising that interesting arguments in that work have been left largely untouched. Section 83, “Happiness and Dominant Ends,” is one that has yet to receive the attention it deserves, though it has not been entirely ignored. In conversations with various scholars, I have learned that in this section Rawls has given many readers the impression that he thinks dominant end views, like those of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, to whom he refers explicitly, are “irrational” or “mad.”

    Ignatius’s famous version of a dominant end view is that...

  9. 6 RAWLSIAN RELIGION
    (pp. 110-126)

    Between 1890 and the mid-twentieth century, liberal theology was the dominant force in the field. It is therefore quite ironic that when Rawls, the greatest liberal thinker since Mill, wrote his senior undergraduate thesis in Princeton’s philosophy department in 1942, but on a topic in theology, he defended a view that was heavily influenced by the neo-orthodox reaction against liberal theology.

    The purpose of this chapter is to examine this senior thesis from the perspectives of both liberal theology and Rawls’s own later political liberalism. In the former effort I will indicate the sort of liberal theology that Rawlscould...

  10. REFERENCES
    (pp. 127-138)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 139-146)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 147-147)