Working Paper: Foundations of a Nonideal Theory of Justice

Hello everyone.  I’ve been working on this paper for a few years now and I could really use some feedback.  Here’s a brief abstract:

This paper systematically extends John Rawls’ original position to nonideal theory, showing how it is both reasonable and rational for the parties to a nonideal-theoretic stage of the original position to prioritize a class of “nonideal-theoretic primary goods” over the satisfaction of Rawls’ principles and priority relations (contrary to Rawlsian orthodoxy). I show that there are at least three nonideal-theoretic primary goods, and that the parties to the original position have sufficient reason to agree to certain priority relations among them. Next, I show that the parties rationally ought to agree to a general principle for distributing these goods, and by extension, to three lexically ordered corollary principles for distributing each of the three specific goods discussed.  Finally, I argue that these principles fare well in reflective equilibrium.

Many thanks in advance to anyone who takes the time to read it.  This has been a difficult project, for obvious reasons.  Any helpful feedback is graciously appreciated.  (Note: to anyone who might have read my earlier paper, “Outline of a Nonideal Theory of Justice” on SSRN, this is a much longer, more involved defense of ideas developed there). 

Here’s a link to the paper: foundations.pdf

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