Relevance of Rawls’ “Ideal Theory”

Surely Mills is right that just policies must recognize and respond to existing racial disparities and other injustices. The policies one should enact in the real, unjust world are different than the ones one should enact in a world without racism and sexism. … Ultimately, Rawls argues that a just pluralist society must ensure that all citizens have a fair chance to pursue their own diverse conceptions of the good life. This requires strong protections for basic liberties, special attention to the needs of the least advantaged, and fair equality of opportunity for all. It is true that Rawls wrote very little about how to address real-world injustices and move toward a more just system. But this is because Rawls views the project of understanding and addressing real-world injustice as a collaborative, interdisciplinary project. Philosophers have an important role to play, but so do many others, including, of course, politicians and citizens generally.

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