A Feminist Critique on the Limits of Rawls

Conor Arsenault

Abstract


The general aim of this paper is to elaborate on the political philosophy of John Rawls, specifically his concepts such as the original position, the veil of ignorance, and the difference principle. In clarifying these concepts, it will be shown why Rawls has been so influential in the field of political philosophy. The specific aim of this paper, though, is to critique his theory of justice, often termed “justice as fairness,” as insufficient in dealing with gender inequality in society, such as the exploitation of women within the institution of the family. In doing so, a paradox will be presented, showing Rawls’ continual inability to back his claim that the principles of justice do not apply to the family, but that the family is imperative in cultivating one’s sense of justice. Realizing this, it will be argued that it is unjust for Rawls’ theory of justice to be applied in a society that believes in gender equality, as it is in opposition to feminist scholarship.


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