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Hampton, Jean, , . Contracts and Choices: Does Rawls Have a Social Contract Theory?
1980, Journal of Philosophy 77(6): 315-338.
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Added by: Carl Fox, Contributed by:

Introduction: In A Theory of Justice John Rawls tells us he is presenting a social contract theory: “My aim,” he writes, “is to present a conception of justice which generalizes and carries to a higher level of abstraction the familiar theory of the social contract as found in say, Locke, Rousseau, and Kant”. And indeed his many and various critics have generally assumed he has a contractarian position and have criticized him on that basis. However, it will be my contention in this paper that a contractual agreement on the two principles not only does not but ought not to occur in the original position, and that, although Rawls uses contract language in his book, there is another procedure outlined in Part One of A Theory of Justice through which the two principles are selected.

Comment: Questions the nature of the Rawlsian contract and asks whether it really belongs in the same tradition as Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau. Useful if engaging with Rawls’s methodology at a deep level. Would make good further reading for a module on either Rawls specifically or the social contract tradition more generally.

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Okin, Susan Moller, , . Forty acres and a mule’ for women: Rawls and feminism
2005, Politics, Philosophy and Economics 4 (2):233-248.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Lizzy Ventham

Abstract: This article assesses the development of Rawls’s thinking in response to a generation of feminist critique. Two principle criticisms are sustainable throughout his work: first, that the family, as a basic institution of society, must be subject to the principles of justice if its members are to be free and equal members of society; and, second, that without such social and political equality, justice as fairness is as meaningful to women as the unrealized promise of ‘Forty acres and a mule’ was to the newly freed slaves.

Comment: I would use this piece to accompany any teaching on John Rawls and his political philosophy. It provides some good summary of a number of different feminist critiques of Rawls and his responses to them, as well as providing new ideas for why Rawls still misses the mark. It can be a good basis for discussion on a number of different feminist criticisms of Rawls’ philosophy.

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