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Philosophy and Theology

Volume 30, Issue 1, 2018

Shlomo Dov Rosen
Pages 123-148

Rawls’s Structural Response to Arbitrariness
An Echo of Calvin

John Rawls, father of contemporary distributive justice, professed the metaphysical neutrality of his theory, and formulated an additional theory to support such neutrality generally. This article exposes Rawls’s own theological underpinnings concerning his conception of the moral arbitrariness of existence, and his structural dichotomous approach for engaging it. I show how both of his theories are reminiscent of Calvin, employing methods of bifurcation, and thus generating tensions within both the concept of justice and moral personality. I end with analysis of the relationship of this structural rationality to arbitrariness. This exposure of Rawls’s theological debt is part of a wider argument concerning the theological basis of distributive justice theory, and the relevance of Theology for philosophical ethics.

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