Growing up Sexist: Challenges to Rawlsian Stability


John Rawls pinpoints stability as the driving force behind many of the changes to justice as fairness from A Theory of Justice to Political Liberalism. Current debates about Rawlsian stability have centered on the possibility of maintaining one’s allegiance to the principles of justice while largely ignoring how citizens acquire a sense of justice. However, evaluating the account of stability in political liberalism requires attention to the impact of reasonable pluralism on both of these issues. I will argue that the first question of Rawlsian stability – how a child acquires a sense of justice – remains unanswered in Political Liberalism. This fact has been overlooked by Rawls, his defenders, and his critics. The failure to attend to the ways reasonable pluralism undermines Rawls’s own story about a child’s moral development ultimately threatens Rawls’s account of stability in political liberalism – or so I will argue. Despite all of the changes Rawls makes to justice as fairness in order to resolve the stability challenge, Political Liberalism fails to deliver the robust stability Rawls seeks.

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Correspondence to Elizabeth Edenberg.

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Edenberg, E. Growing up Sexist: Challenges to Rawlsian Stability. Law and Philos 37, 577–612 (2018).

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