Rawls, Order Ethics, and Rawlsian Order Ethics

  • Ludwig Heider
  • Nikil MukerjiEmail author


This chapter discusses how order ethics relates to the theory of justice. We focus on John Rawls’s influential conception “Justice as Fairness” (JF) and compare its components with relevant aspects of the order-ethical approach. The two theories, we argue, are surprisingly compatible in various respects. We also analyse how far order ethicists disagree with Rawls and why. The main source of disagreement that we identify lies in a thesis that is central to the order ethical system, viz. the requirement of incentive-compatible implementability. It purports that an ethical norm can be normatively valid only if individuals have a self-interested motive to support it. This idea conflicts with the Rawlsian view because there are cases where it is not clear, from the standpoint of self-interest, why everybody should support its moral demands. If the thesis of incentive-compatible implementability is, in fact, correct, a proponent of JF would have to reform her views. We suggest how she could do that while salvaging the heart of her normative system as a “regulative idea”. The conception that would result from this reformation may be seen as a new variant of order ethics, which we propose to call “Rawlsian Order Ethics.”


Difference principle Distributive justice Equality of opportunity Freedom Income redistribution Justice Liberty Order ethics Pareto Rawls Rawlsian order ethics Rights 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Philosophy, Philosophy of Science, and the Study of ReligionLudwig-Maximilians-Universität MünchenMunichGermany

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