A Fair State
- Political Liberalism by John Rawls
Columbia, 416 pp, £19.95, June 1993, ISBN 0 231 05248 0
It is over twenty years since John Rawls’s A Theory of Justice was published. It was recognised at once as an immensely significant contribution to modern political philosophy, and its reputation has only grown since. There are many questions, about social justice, toleration and the stability of a modern state, that can scarcely be discussed unless one starts from ideas that have been shaped by Rawls.
Vol. 15 No. 11 · 10 June 1993
Reading Bernard Williams’s review of John Rawls (LRB, 13 May), one cannot help reflecting that our present electoral system – polarised into two parties which might properly be called those of Greed and Envy – militates against out preserving or creating a just society. Perhaps we ought not to vote for those professing particular policies but for the man or woman who best seems to represent our aspirations – leaving it to them to choose what party they support once they get to Westminster, as indeed was once the case. Such an arrangement would render proportional representation unnecessary, especially if the voter were allowed to order his preferences A, B, C, D, etc, with each letter given an appropriate numerical weighting for the count. The value of party allegiances is not that they provide a label for lazy voters, but that they enable the monarch to choose which set of MPs will be able to generate a stable administration.
John A. Davis