Rawls and the Practice of Political Equality

  • Author / Creator
    Makarenko, Jay
  • The purpose of this work was to develop a greater understanding of Rawls’s liberal-egalitarianism within the context of political participation. In A Theory of Justice, his first comprehensive statement of his theory of justice, Rawls introduced the idea of fair opportunity, which holds all citizens are entitled to play an equal role in the political life of their society. In his later works, Political Liberalism and Justice as Fairness: A Restatement, Rawls made significant changes to this idea. What does Rawls’s later notion of political equality entail? In addressing this question, several conceptions of political equality are developed, which are referred to as liberal non-egalitarian, moderate egalitarian and radical egalitarian. The practical implications of these conceptions are highlighted by examining Canadian and American jurisprudence on freedom of expression and campaign finance laws. These conceptions are used to unpack Rawls’s own writings on political equality, as well as secondary literature. This included Norman Daniels’s early critique of A Theory of Justice, which led Rawls to later clarify his notion of political equality, as well as recent commentary on Rawls’s revisions. This recent commentary presented two sorts of views. The first interpreted Rawls’s in a highly ambiguous manner, leaving it unclear whether he supported a moderate or radical form of egalitarianism. The second interpreted Rawls as adopting a very radical notion of political equality in his later works. This work challenges these interpretations. It is argued that Rawls developed a clear sense of political equality in his later works, which rejected radical egalitarianism in favour of a moderate view of equality in political participation.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
    • Department of Political Science
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Carmichael, Don (Political Science)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Thorlakson, Lori (Political Science)
    • Urquhart, Ian (Political Science)
    • Kellogg, Catherine (Political Science)
    • Laycock, David (Political Science)
    • Whitson, Dave (Political Science)
    • Cooper, Wesley (Philosophy)