SAAP Annual Meeting 2013

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John Rawls’s " Pragmatic Turn" and his Moderate Cosmopolitanism

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Daniele Botti
Yale University (Global Justice Program)
United States

John Rawls’s intellectual trajectory is addressed in this paper in a non-conventional way. What is challenged here is the common view that by the early 1980s Rawls did undertake a “pragmatic turn” in his way of thinking about justice. Pointing out continuities and discontinuities in Rawls’s way of philosophizing — also by the use of unpublished material held by the Pusey Library of Harvard University — the paper aims at showing that, contrary to common wisdom, it might be plausible to think of an “unpragmatic turn” in Rawls’s intellectual path. Rawls’s basic assumption that in order to theorize on justice we should conceive of a society as a closed, self-sufficient, and self-contained unit plays indeed a more problematic role in the later than in the early works of the author.


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