The Internal-Rawlsian Unsustainability of Rawls’s Duty of Assistance
Kamminga, Menno R.
Philosophers interested in John Rawls’s international political theorizing have paid considerable attention to the duty of assistance as a key notion of his Law of Peoples. However, in focusing on contentious-theoretical and practical implications of this duty, they have not thoroughly examined the more immediate question of whether this duty is sustainable from the perspective of Rawls’s Law of Peoples itself. The thesis of the present article is that Rawls’s duty of assistance is internally unsustainable, as it cannot be adequately justified from within his Law of Peoples. A threefold argument is developed. First, Rawls’s own explanation of the duty of assistance within the Law of Peoples is unclear and confusing. Second, others’ ‘Rawlsian’ ideal-theoretical and non-ideal-theoretical attempts to justify the duty of assistance probably inevitably fail. Third, Rawls’s Law of Peoples leads to skepticism about the duty of assistance’s applicability to the non-ideal world. The article concludes that at most a principle of corrective justice in ideal theory combined with a right of assistance and an ad hoc duty of corrective justice in non-ideal theory is maintainable within the Law of Peoples.
EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Menno R. Kamminga, "The Internal-Rawlsian Unsustainability of Rawls’s Duty of Assistance", in "Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics (2018) XX/1", Trieste, EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2018, pp. 363-381
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