Private Law and Rawls’s Principles of Justice

Samuel Freeman

in Liberalism and Distributive Justice

Published in print September 2018 | ISBN: 9780190699260
Published online July 2018 | e-ISBN: 9780190699291 | DOI:
Private Law and Rawls’s Principles of Justice

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This chapter discusses the application of Rawls’s principles of justice to private law, or the law of legal relationships between individuals, including the law of property, contracts, and torts. Some have argued that Rawls’s principles of justice apply only to public law—legislation affecting government’s relationships to individuals. This chapter contends that the first principle plays a crucial role in assessing and determining private law; moreover, fair equality of opportunity and the difference principle are to be applied to the assessment of many rules of private law. The difference principle addresses the question of how a society is to fairly design and efficiently organize the institutions that make economic cooperation possible among free and equal persons actively engaged in productive activity. Certain core legal institutions, including property and economic contract, are necessary for economic cooperation and are among the institutions covered by the second principle of justice.

Keywords: Rawls; private law; public law; property; difference principle; principle of fairness; principles of justice

Chapter.  16252 words. 

Subjects: Social and Political Philosophy

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