Political Liberalism, Ethos Justice, and Gender Equality
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Susan Okin criticizes John Rawls’s ‘political liberalism’ because it does not apply principles of justice directly to gender relations within households. We explain how one can be a ‘political liberal feminist’ by distinguishing between two kinds of justice: the first we call ‘legitimacy justice’, conceptions of which apply to the ‘legally coercive structure’ of society; the second we call ‘ethos justice’, conceptions of which apply to citizens’ ‘non-coercive’ relations. We agree with Okin that a society in which most persons act in accordance with ‘gender equal’ ethos justice is morally superior to one in which most persons do not. A shared commitment to a particular conception of ethos justice, however, cannot be required by a conception of legitimacy justice. A political liberal feminist is committed to promoting gender equality with respect to both legitimacy justice and ethos justice, but recognizes that different means are necessary to do so.
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