Social Theory and Practice

Volume 46, Issue 3, July 2020

William A. Edmundson
Pages 497-514

What Is the Argument for the Fair Value of Political Liberty?

The equal political liberties are among the basic first-principle liberties in John Rawls’s theory of Justice as fairness. Rawls insists, further, that the “fair value” of the political liberties must be guaranteed. Disavowing an interest in fair value is what disqualifies welfare-state capitalism as a possible realizer of Justice as fairness. Yet Rawls never gives a perspicuous statement of the reasoning in the original position for the fair-value guarantee. This article gathers up two distinct strands of Rawls’s argument, and presents it in a straightforward sequence. Justice as fairness is contrasted to a competitor political conception of justice that is just like it but without the fair-value guarantee. A schema of the two-strand argument is presented in the Appendix.