Justice, non-violence, and the practice of political judgment : a study of Ricoeur's conception of justice
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In his recent works, Paul Ricoeur devotes considerable attention to the importance of John Rawls’s political philosophy. At the same time, he develops his own positive account of justice, which concerns the moral foundation for society as well individual actions and decisions. Ricoeur is in substantial agreement that one of the main problems in a democratic society is securing the moral validity of public norms or principles. In addressing this problem, Ricoeur finds that Rawls’s procedural conception of justice is extremely helpful, but limited in a fundamental way. The aim of this study is twofold: the first aim is to explore Paul Ricoeur’s critique of John Rawls’s pure procedural conception of justice. The second aim is to show that Ricoeur’s conception of justice is a suitable alternative to Rawls’s conception. It is not my intention here to compare Ricoeur’s position to Rawls’s in a complete fashion. But it will be my thesis that Ricoeur’s conception of justice is preferable to that of Rawls in several important respects. Most importantly, Ricoeur’s conception of justice is more realistic, since its justification does not require an appeal to a hypothetical original position. And second, his conception is more practically applicable, since its realization is more plausibly grounded in an anthropological account of human action and because of its emphasis on the dynamism of justice, which connects philosophy to politics and history. My study will proceed in two main parts. The first part, including the first and second chapters, deals with Rawls’s theory of justice. The second, which includes the remaining chapters, discusses Paul Ricoeur’s own positive account of justice. More specifically, I shall draw attentions to two crucial themes in Ricoeur’s political thought: first, consideration of justice enables us to explain how morality plays an important role in social or political life, and also to explain the proper function of politics and history. Secondly, consideration of justice will show that Ricoeur’s overall conception of justice is rooted in an appropriate understanding of human capabilities.