What Are Basic Liberties?

Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
Two moral powers are central to Rawls’s approach to specifying the basic liberties: the capacity for a sense of justice and the capacity for a conception of the good. The fundamental case in which the first capacity is exercised is in “the application of the principles of justice to the basic structure and its social policies”. The fundamental case in which the second capacity is exercised is in “forming, revising, and rationally pursuing such a conception over a complete life”. Rawls distinguishes between two phases of specification. In the first, a list of basic liberties is identified at a high level of abstraction; in the second, the significance of different particular liberties is determined and adjudication over conflicts between them occurs. Rawls’s complete account, we argue, defines as basic those liberties that are necessary to the provision of the social conditions essential for the full and informed exercise of the moral powers (first phase) in the two fundamental cases (second phase). We argue that this account excludes certain particular liberties that it should not: e.g., some forms of freedom of movement. We suggest that probability should take over the role assigned to necessity in Rawls’s account. On this approach also, however, some particular freedoms rightly regarded by Rawls as basic liberties do not meet the definition. To remedy this, we appeal to the liberal principle of legitimacy and we defend this move.
PhilPapers/Archive ID
Revision history
First archival date: 2018-06-15
Latest version: 3 (2018-12-03)
View upload history
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Added to PP index

Total views
48 ( #30,015 of 38,887 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
29 ( #14,852 of 38,887 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks to external links.