Global Basic Structure
Justice and the Basic Structure
In his hugely influential A Theory of Justice (1971), John Rawls suggested that the subject of theories of justice ought to be the basic structure of individual societies. By basic structure, Rawls intended the major institutions of a society – including economic, political, and social ones – which taken together can have a huge impact on the individuals of that society. The reason the basic structure matters is because of this profound and immediate impact on citizens’ lives, and it is for that reason that the basic structure should be considered the subject or target of principles such as the Difference Principle. Though Rawls was pursued on questions such as whether the family was part of the basic structure, he held dear to the claim that such a structure provides the subject-matter for theories of distributive justice.
This emphasis on the centrality of the basic structure to theories of justice has been the subject of much debate. It has been...
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