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Liberalism and Distributive Justice$
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Samuel Freeman

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190699260

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190699260.001.0001

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Private Law and Rawls’s Principles of Justice

Private Law and Rawls’s Principles of Justice

Chapter:
(p.167) 5 Private Law and Rawls’s Principles of Justice
Source:
Liberalism and Distributive Justice
Author(s):

Samuel Freeman

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190699260.003.0006

This chapter discusses the application of Rawls’s principles of justice to private law, or the law of legal relationships between individuals, including the law of property, contracts, and torts. Some have argued that Rawls’s principles of justice apply only to public law—legislation affecting government’s relationships to individuals. This chapter contends that the first principle plays a crucial role in assessing and determining private law; moreover, fair equality of opportunity and the difference principle are to be applied to the assessment of many rules of private law. The difference principle addresses the question of how a society is to fairly design and efficiently organize the institutions that make economic cooperation possible among free and equal persons actively engaged in productive activity. Certain core legal institutions, including property and economic contract, are necessary for economic cooperation and are among the institutions covered by the second principle of justice.

Keywords:   Rawls, private law, public law, property, difference principle, principle of fairness, principles of justice

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