Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 June 2012
A POLITICAL CONCEPTION OF JUSTICE
The publication of A Theory of Justice generated a huge secondary literature, a small portion of which we will examine in chapter 5. In a few cases, such as the changes to the formulation of the first principle prompted by criticisms made by H. L. A. Hart, Rawls responded directly by clarifying or revising elements of the theory. But by far the most significant developments in Rawls's work after A Theory of Justice were due to his own ultimate dissatisfaction with the argument for the congruence between the right and the good. This was an area that was – and continues to be – badly neglected in the secondary literature, and according to Samuel Freeman, “Rawls once said (in conversation) that he thought the congruence argument was one of the most original contributions he made in A Theory of Justice, and that he was puzzled why it did not attract more comment.” In this section, we will explore the problem he found in the congruence argument in A Theory of Justice and how this prompted him to develop the idea of a political conception of justice. In the next section, we will look at two areas where these developments allowed Rawls to strengthen the arguments made in A Theory of Justice, namely, the reliance on primary goods and the priority of the first principle over the second.