Res Publica

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 101–116 | Cite as

Envy, Facts and Justice: A Critique of the Treatment of Envy in Justice as Fairness

  • Patrick Tomlin


A common anti-egalitarian argument is that equality is motivated by envy, or the desire to placate envy. In order to avoid this charge, John Rawls explicitly banishes envy from his original position. This article argues that this is an inconsistent and untenable position for Rawls, as he treats envy as if it were a fact of human psychology and believes that principles of justice should be based on such facts. Therefore envy should be known about in the original position. The consequences for Rawlsian theory—both substantive and methodological—are discussed.


Egalitarianism Envy Facts and principles Rawls Social contract 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Balliol CollegeUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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