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Rawls and Cosmopolitanism: Peoples, Persons, and Human Rights

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Hakos, Greg

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Abstract In 'The Law of Peoples' Rawls extends his social contract theory to the international realm, and with that tries to provide his recipe for a "realistic utopia" - a perpetual peace. In fact, he follows Kant's "Perpetual Peace" in advocating not one centralized, "world-state," but rather an alliance of many independent, well-ordered member nations (Peoples). Rawls calls such an alliance a "Society of Peoples" and suggests that it, "is reasonably just in that its members follow the reasonably just Law of Peoples in their mutual relations." This strategy also has unique implications for Rawls's conception of human rights. But, his conception has recently come under fire for its emphasis on Peoples over persons. In this paper I will try to demonstrate that one such attack misses its mark, and that Rawls in fact provides what I argue to be an extremely plausible view of human rights, at least from a social contract perspective. (author's abstract)
Keywords Rawls, J.; image of society; social structure; justice; constitutional state; nation state; international system; political philosophy; history of ideas; value; value-orientation; human rights; civil rights; cosmopolitanism
Classification Philosophy, Ethics, Religion; Political Process, Elections, Political Sociology, Political Culture
Document language English
Publication Year 2006
Page/Pages p. 1-28
Journal Federal Governance, 3 (2006) 1
ISSN 1923-6158
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Basic Digital Peer Publishing Licence