Advertisement

Res Publica

, 17:245 | Cite as

Rawls and Rousseau: Amour-Propre and the Strains of Commitment

  • Robert Jubb
Article

Abstract

In this paper I try to illuminate the Rawlsian architectonic through an interpretation of what Rawls’ Lectures on the History of Political Philosophy say about Rousseau. I argue that Rawls’ emphasis there when discussing Rousseau on interpreting amour-propre so as to make it compatible with a life in at least some societies draws attention to, and helps explicate, an analogous feature of his own work, the strains of commitment broadly conceived. Both are centrally connected with protecting a sense of self which is vital for one’s own agency. This allows us to appreciate better than much of the literature presently does the requirement for Rawls that justice and the good are congruent, that a society of justice does not disfigure citizens’ ability to live out lives relatively unmarked by relations of domination. Some comments on G. A. Cohen’s critiques of Rawls are made.

Keywords

Amour-propre Finality Publicity Rawls Rousseau 

Notes

Acknowledgments

I would like to acknowledge the generous support of the British Arts and Humanities Research Council who funded the doctorate during which ancestors of this paper were written. It emerged out of a seminar run by Chris Brooke, and I would like to thank him for that and for comments on the paper. Patrick Tomlin also provided comments then, as Christian Schemmel and Chiara Cordelli did later, all of which were very useful. I also owe a debt of gratitude to the referees and editors of Res Publica who helped me clarify my claims and their presentation. Finally, it was presented at Manchester University and Nuffield College, and I would like to thank the audiences there, and especially Martin O’Neill and Chandran Kukathas.

References

  1. Cohen, Joshua. 2010. Rousseau a free community of equals. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Cohen, Gerald Allan. 2008. Rescuing justice and equality. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  3. de Lazari-Radek, Katarzyna, and Peter Singer. 2010. Secrecy in consequentialism: A defence of esoteric morality. Ratio XXIII: 34–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Dent, Nicholas. 2005. Rousseau. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  5. Frazer, Michael L. 2010. The modest professor: Interpretive charity and interpretive humility in John Rawls’s lectures on the history of political philosophy. European Journal of Political Theory 9: 218–226.Google Scholar
  6. Freeman, Samuel. 1994. Utilitarianism, deontology, and the priority of right. Philosophy & Public Affairs 23: 313–349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Freeman, Samuel. 2007a. The burdens of public justification: constructivism, contractualism, and publicity. Politics, Philosophy & Economics 6: 5–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Freeman, Samuel. 2007b. Justice and the social contract: essays on rawlsian political philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Labukt, Ivar. 2009. Rawls on the practicability of utilitarianism. Politics, Philosophy & Economics 8: 201–221.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Neuhouser, Frederick. 1993. Freedom, dependence, and the general will. Philosophical Review 102: 363–395.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Neuhouser, Frederick. 2008. Rousseau’s theodicy of self-love: Evil, rationality, and the drive for recognition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Rawls, John. 1971. A theory of justice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Rawls, John. 1993. Political liberalism. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Rawls, John. 2001. Justice as fairness: A restatement, ed. Erin Kelly. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Rawls, John. 2007. Lectures on the history of political philosophy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. 1997a [1762]. The social contract and other later political writings, ed. and (trans: Victor Gourevitch). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. 1997b [1750/1755]. The discourses and other early political writings, ed. and (trans: Victor Gourevitch). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Williams, Andrew. 1998. Incentives, inequality, and publicity. Philosophy & Public Affairs 27: 225–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Public PolicyUCLLondonUK

Personalised recommendations