Communicating Justice: The Second‐Order Problem of Knowledge

Randy E. Barnett

in The Structure of Liberty

Published in print February 2000 | ISBN: 9780198297291
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598777 | DOI:
Communicating Justice: The Second‐Order Problem of Knowledge

Show Summary Details


The second‐order problem of knowledge is the need to communicate knowledge of justice in a manner that makes the actions it requires accessible to everyone. The need for this message to be conveyed in advance of persons taking action (ex ante) influences the form of the message in at least eight ways: (1) general rules or principles that are (2) publicized, (3) prospective in effect, (4) understandable, (5) compossible, (6) possible to follow, (7) stable, and (8) enforced as publicized. These formal requirements that are needed to communicate the message of justice ex ante are part of what is known as the rule of law. The need for ex ante information about allocation of several property rights also influences the substance of these rights including the prohibition on force and fraud.

Keywords: compossibility; force; formalities; fraud; justice; legality; problem of knowledge; property rights; rule of law

Chapter.  12285 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.