Review Of "Justice And Modern Moral Philosophy" By J. Reiman

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With admirable lucidity and rigor, Reiman defends two principles of justice deriving from reason: even when people do not cooperate, they owe each other, equally, noninterference, easy rescue, respect for natural ownership, trustworthiness, intergenerational solicitude, and deterrence-based punishment (natural justice); when people do cooperate, they also owe each other distribution of the benefits and efforts that went into producing them, according to the difference principle (social justice). Justice not only has primacy over all other moral beliefs, it provides reason's answer to allegations of subjugation, which can only be rebutted on terms acceptable to everyone, whatever their disagreements and inclinations. Reiman distinguishes his position from those championed by J. Rawls (A Theory of Justice, CH, Sep'72), A. Gewirth (Reason and Morality, CH, Mar'79), and R.S. Downie and E. Telfer (Respect for Persons, 1969). Drawing on Marx, Reiman cogently criticizes libertarians, especially R. Nozick (Anarchy, State, and Utopia, CH, Mar'75), for failing to recognize that capitalism can lead to subjugation. He also criticizes communitarians, especially M.J. Sandel (Liberalism and the Limits of Justice, 1982), for failing to see that communitarian values can safely be realized only within a domain protected by universal principles of justice. Reiman's vigorous defense of deontological, contractarian liberalism should provoke profitable argument from many quarters. Highly recommended for all upper-division college and university libraries.


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