In this issue of The Independent Review, Alexander Rawlsthe son of philosopher John Rawlsargues that the theory of justice as fairness does not adequately handle the question of what people actually deserve. The best a society can hope for is a set of rules that create conventions of property rights and predictable order. A theory of justice that ignores the costs of adjudicating disputes is simply an invitation to rent-seeking. Alexander Rawls argues for a notion of justice in which claims of need and claims of desert get adjudicated together, allowing a more workable theory of justice to emerge. The Independent Review asked three prominent young philosophers to assess Alexander Rawls insights into his fathers work.
Michael C. Munger is Senior Fellow and former co-editor of The Independent Review at the Independent Institute, and Professor of Political Science, Economics and Public Policy and Director of the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics Program at Duke University.