Constitutional Political Economy

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 287–299

Rawls’ Paradox

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10602-007-9024-2

Cite this article as:
Brennan, J. Constit Polit Econ (2007) 18: 287. doi:10.1007/s10602-007-9024-2


Rawls’ theory of justice is paradoxical, for it requires a society to aim directly to maximize the basic goods received by the least advantaged even if directly aiming is self-defeating. Rawls’ reasons for rejecting capitalist systems commit him to holding that a society must not merely maximize the goods received by the least advantaged, but must do so via specific institutions. By Rawls’ own premises, in the long run directly aiming to satisfy the difference principle is contrary to the interests of the poor, though it is meant to aid them.


John Rawls Publicity Economic growth Political economy

JEL Classification


Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Political Theory ProjectBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA