What is the weakest argument in Rawls' analysis in A Theory of Justice?

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

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It seems to me that the most challenging element to embracing Rawls' logic is that there is not a practically applicable guide he renders.  The theories he lays out are strong, yet if one were to critique his position, the lack of a definite and precise political breakdown becomes significant.  This can be seen on a couple of levels.  The first is what does it actually look like to provide for the lowest of social and economic inequality?  What policies are able to do this without violating the sphere of freedom that he has argued is vital to the individual?  It is a nuanced argument he proposes and like all such arguments, the difficulty lies in its actual implementation.  Rawls does not offer much in way of practical elements in terms of his philosophical ideas.  For example, would the Affordable Health Care Act, recently upheld by the Supreme Court, be representative of Rawls' ideas?  If it is, then the arguments against the Act that are rooted in its supposed denial of freedom have to be weighed, argument that strike at Rawls' first supposition.  In this, one sees how the balancing of Rawls' second presupposition can be made to go against the first one.  I think that this dynamic is one of Rawls' most challenging argument made, and the lack of a political approach outlined in the work helps to render it a bit on the weak side.  The second issue that has to be addressed is Rawls' admission that some social and economic inequality is going to be evident.  This becomes a challenge because anyone in the pluralist, democratic society can take that to mean whatever they wish it to mean.  Such an argument can be used to actually perpetuate social and economic inequality, the precise opposed to Rawls' initial claims.  I think that these areas represent where Rawls' theory faces some challenges and might display some weakness.


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