Is libertarianism compatible with liberalism

The egalitarian liberalism according to John Rawls

The egalitarian liberalism was largely developed by John Rawls in his main work "A Theory of Justice".

John Rawls is a modern American philosopher and his writing on egalitarian liberalism is still considered one of the most influential works of political philosophy of the 20th century.

It is important for entrepreneurs, economists and investors to know the basic position and definition of liberalism and its effects in connection with the free market economy. The egalitarian liberalism is linked to the classical liberalism and basically refers to the concept of freedom.

Egalitarian liberalism: basic ideas

John Rawls is considered to be an essential representative of egalitarian liberalism. His writings "A Theory of Justice" from 1971 and "Politischer Liberalismus" are based on the conviction that justice arises primarily through the basic value of equality.

In addition to John Rawls, Bruce Ackermann, Ronald Dworkin and Thomas Nagel are also representatives of egalitarian liberalism.

According to John Rawls, justice is the highest premise of a social system, which, however, must not violate the freedom of the individual.

For the theory of egalitarian liberalism, Rawls has drafted several principles of justice that are intended to explain and illustrate his ideology.

The first principle of justice is also called the "principle of freedom". According to this principle, every person should have the same right to the greatest possible fundamental freedom, which must be compatible with the same freedom for all others.

Dealing with economic inequalities is laid down in the second principle of justice, which is also known as the “difference principle”. The economic inequalities should be used to the greatest possible advantage for the worst-off people. At the same time, offices and institutions should ensure that there is fair equality of opportunity in society.

With the principle of priority, Rawls stipulates that the freedom of the members of society who are worst off must by no means be reduced - not even if it would be to their economic advantage.

Above all in the priority principle one recognizes the strong relation of egalitarian liberalism to the inviolable freedom of the individual. The equal distribution of freedoms is, however, already enshrined in classical liberalism. The egalitarian liberalism sometimes differs from liberalism because of the fair value of freedom, equal opportunities and the justification of social inequalities. Because these inequalities are permissible for Rawls if they work to the advantage of the poorly placed members of society.

Criticism of John Rawls' egalitarian liberalism

Utilitarians, libertarians and communitarians in particular criticize the work of John Rawls.

One of the most relevant criticisms of egalitarian liberalism is the question of justice. Because it seems almost impossible that all members of society hold the same view of justice.

Libertarians also see the “difference principle” itself as a limitation of individual freedom.

Despite the criticism, the egalitarian liberalism according to John Rawls is one of the best known and most important political philosophies of the 20th century. It can therefore be very interesting not only to find out about the effects of classical liberalism on the economic system, but also to examine more specific theories such as egalitarian liberalism.


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