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Social Theory and Practice

Volume 39, Issue 4, October 2013

C. M. Melenovsky
Pages 599-624

The Basic Structure as a System of Social Practices

In his own writings, Rawls purposively used only a loose characterization of the basic structure, but two prominent misinterpretations highlight the current need for a more detailed account. First, G.A. Cohen argues that the Rawlsian focus on the basic structure is arbitrary due to the Rawlsian appeal to profound effects. Second, some theorists conflate the justification of coercion with the assessment of a basic structure by defining the basic structure as the coercive structure. Both misinterpretations can be corrected by carefully specifying what social institutions are and explaining which social institutions come together to form the basic structure of society.

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