Importance Of Rousseau's Ideal Society

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When examining the question of whether John Rawls would consider Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s ideal society in the Social Contract fair, it is important to not only understand Rousseau’s ideal society more closely, but also understand what Rawls defines as being fair. First, the society that Rousseau proposes as the ideal one is based off of his concept of the nature of men. Men are born free and it is society that enslaves them, therefore, the goal of his ideal society is one that protects the people while also maintaining them as free as they were in nature. While to many philosophers maintaining security means renouncing some of an individual’s freedom, Rousseau believes that society can have one without the expense of the other. This only happens …show more content…
Using the first principle of justice, the laws that are based off the “general will” will always promote the security and freedom of individuals intact. Due to the emphasis on promoting freedom and equality, the ideal society would fall under Rawls’ determination of fairness under the first principle of justice. Rawls puts an emphasis on equal liberties and Rousseau’s society is focused on equality of all individuals. In that society, individuals have social liberties similar to those Rawls emphasizes. “The social compact creates an equality among the citizens so that they all commit to the same conditions and should all have the same rights.” (Rousseau 108). Within the first principle of justice, Rawls looks to promote the same principals as Rousseau. They each see the importance of having equal basic liberties for each individual. For Rousseau, equality promotes a political community that protects individuals from problems found in commercial society. For Rawls, equality is central to the fairness and justice that he looks to emphasize. Therefore, Rawls would consider Rousseau’s ideal society fair when concerning the first principle of justice. Rawls would believe the society is just because it promotes equality of rights within the people. Even though Rousseau’s liberties are not specified beyond being civil liberties as opposed to natural liberties, it is still …show more content…
Based off his own views of fairness and justice, Rawls would consider Rousseau’s ideal society fair. This conclusion is only made when considering what is at the core of Rawls’ desire for fairness: justice. Rousseau’s emphasis on security is of little concern to Rawls. However, Rousseau’s belief of liberties and equality follow Rawls’ own belief of fairness as justice. For Rawls, a practice is fair when none of those participating in it feel they are not only being compelled to give in to illegitimate claims, but also feeling they are being taken advantage of. Therefore, fairness is promoting the freedom of thought and putting equality among all. Rousseau’s ideal society is fair only if the general will of the people is aligned with promoting the equal basic liberties. If not, the ideal society will not be fair under Rawls’ lens because they are not promoting those basic liberties important to Rawls. Nevertheless, this society would be fair under Rawls because the “general will” drives it. Rawls believes that fairness comes from the consensus of the society saying what is fair. The “general will” serves as that consensus and would determine what is fair. Therefore, Rawls would consider Rousseau’s ideal society as fair because the society in its core is an extension of the beliefs of everyone

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