Rawls and Rousseau: Amour-Propre and the Strains of Commitment
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.
KeywordsAmour-propre Finality Publicity Rawls Rousseau
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.
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