Social and Political Philosophy - Essay Example

Much of Rawls's presentation of the law of peoples parallels thepresentations of political liberalism and justice as fairness. As aliberal society has a basic structure of institutions so, Rawls says,there is an international basic structure (LP, 33, 62, 114,115, 122, 123). While Rawls does not say that the international basicstructure has a pervasive impact on the life chances of individuals,the rules of this basic structure are coercively enforced (forexample, Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990 was coercively reversed bya coalition of other countries). The principles that should regulatethis international basic structure thus require justification. Thejustification of these principles must accommodate the fact that thereis even more pluralism in worldviews among contemporary societies thanthere is within a single liberal society.

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Social & Political Philosophy - Oxford University Press

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Recent scholarship has continued to probe these issues. Davis closelyexamines Locke's terminology and argues that we must distinguishbetween political society and legitimate government. Only those whohave expressly consented are members of political society, while thegovernment exercises legitimate authority over various types of peoplewho have not so consented. The government is supreme in some respects,but there is no sovereign. Van der Vossen makes a related argument,claiming that the initial consent of property owners is not themechanism by which governments come to rule over a particularterritory. Rather, Locke thinks that people (probably fathersinitially) simply begin exercising political authority and peopletacitly consent. This is sufficient to justify a state in ruling overthose people and treaties between governments fix the territorialborders. Hoff goes still further, arguing that we need not even thinkof specific acts of tacit consent (such as deciding not to emigrate).Instead, consent is implied if the government itself functions in waysthat show it is answerable to the people.

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Decent peoples are not internally just from a liberalperspective. Their basic institutions do not recognize reasonablepluralism or embody any interpretation of the liberal ideas of freeand equal citizens cooperating fairly. The institutions of a decentsociety may be organized around a single comprehensive doctrine, suchas a dominant religion. The political system may not be democratic,and women or members of minority religions may be excluded from publicoffice. Nevertheless, decent peoples are well-ordered enough, Rawlssays, to merit equal membership in international society.

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2002) was an American political philosopher in the liberal tradition

Citizens are equal, Rawls says, in virtue of having the capacities toparticipate in social cooperation over a complete life. Citizens mayhave greater or lesser skills, talents, and powers “above theline” that cooperation requires, but differences above this linehave no bearing on citizens' equal political status.