Social Theory and Practice

Volume 46, Issue 3, July 2020

Jeffrey Carroll
Pages 441-466

In Defense of Strict Compliance as a Modeling Assumption

Rawlsian ideal theory has as its foundational assumption strict compliance with the principles of justice. Whereas Rawls employed strict compliance for his particular positive purpose, I defend the more general methodological point that strict compliance can be a permissible modeling assumption. Strict compliance can be assumed in a model that determines the most just set of principles, but such a model, while informative, is not straightforwardly action-guiding. I construct such a model and defend it against influential contemporary criticisms of models that assume strict compliance.