Here is the abstract:
The first principle of Rawls’s conception of justice secures a set of ‘basic liberties’ equally for all citizens within the constitutional structure of society. The ‘worth’ of citizens’ liberties, however, may vary depending upon their wealth. Against Rawls, Cohen contends that an absence of money often can directly constrain citizens’ freedom and not simply its worth. This is because money often can remove legally enforced constraints on what citizens can do. Cohen’s argument – if modified to apply to citizens’ ‘moral powers’ rather than ‘negative liberty’ – threatens a core feature of Rawls’s conception of justice, as it is unclear why the parties within the ‘original position’ would endorse the lexical priority of the first principle over the ‘difference principle’ (which concerns the distribution of wealth) if both principles similarly shape citizens’ freedom. I concede Cohen’s point regarding the relation between freedom and money but argue that it is not fatal to Rawls’s conception of justice if the ‘basic needs principle’ is understood to enjoy lexical priority over the first principle and is modified to include a right to adequate discretionary time. Nonetheless, Cohen’s argument helpfully highlights the infelicitous nature of Rawls’s terminology with respect to liberty: the basic needs principle, the first principle and the difference principle all should be understood as shaping citizens’ freedom to exercise their moral powers.I was interviewed a few months ago on the article for the UWM magazine In Focus. And if you’re curious about the Canadian lottery (‘Lotto 6/49’) that I mention at the beginning of the article, I posted a link to one of the lottery’s commercials here back in May.
My friend and fellow political philosopher Andrew Lister (of Queen’s University) also has an article on Rawls in the very same issue. It’s called “Markets, Desert, and Reciprocity,” and also is available for free.
(Obviously PPE recognizes that the world needs unimpeded access to this important new work on Rawls!)
UPDATE: Alas, the articles no longer are available for free. *sigh*