What is the position of the concept of human flourishing in Rawls' philosophy as set forth in A Theory of Justice?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that Rawls sees the idea of human flourishing as one that has to be somewhat linked with the larger notion of the social good.  Rawls is not a classical liberal in the sense that he believes that human flourishing can exist in a vacuum.  The fundamental idea of seeking to redress some level of social inequality that is present in society and the entire premise of justice as fairness precludes him from being so.  The idea of human flourishing and human success is one that he does see as linked with individual freedom and its expansion. However, at the same time, Rawls understands clearly that there has to be some level of addressing the idea of social inequality as part of human flourishing and human success.  In the discussion about the veil of ignorance, one recognizes this.  It is to this end that the ideas of economic flourishing, social flourishing, and personal flourishing have to be seen in the context of individual freedom.  Yet, on some level, Rawls does not see society as advancing very well unless there is a focus on ensuring that human flourishing is not fully embraced and undertaken without a focus on social welfare and the idea of redressing some of the massive inequality that prevents the full realization of justice as fairness.


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