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Res Philosophica

Volume 93, Issue 4, October 2016

Philosophy of Disability

Chong-Ming Lim
Pages 893-920
DOI: 10.11612/resphil.1469

An Incomplete Inclusion of Non-cooperators into a Rawlsian Theory of Justice

John Rawls’s use of the “fully cooperating assumption” has been criticized for hindering attempts to address the needs of disabled individuals, or non-cooperators. In response, philosophers sympathetic to Rawls’s project have extended his theory. I assess one such extension by Cynthia Stark, that proposes dropping Rawls’s assumption in the constitutional stage (of his four-stage sequence), and address the needs of non-cooperators via the social minimum. I defend Stark’s proposal against criticisms by Sophia Wong, Christie Hartley, and Elizabeth Edenberg and Marilyn Friedman. Nevertheless, I argue that Stark’s proposal is crucially incomplete. Her formulation of the social minimum lacks accompanying criteria with which the adequacy of the provisions for non-cooperators may be assessed. Despite initial appearances, Stark’s proposal does not fully address the needs of non-cooperators. I conclude by considering two payoffs of identifying this lack of criteria.

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