Patching up and tearing apart the Hart-Rawls Principle of Fairness- Richard Arneson

Patching up and tearing apart the Hart-Rawls Principle of Fairness- Richard Arneson
Image by Nuchylee (Adobe Stock)

In 1955 HLA Hart asserted a norm that he said was a source of special rights and obligations, not generated by consent, that rendered political obligation intelligible. Revised and reformulated as the Hart-Rawls principle of fairness, it says, “When a number of persons engage in a just, mutually advantageous, cooperative venture according to rules and thus restrain their liberty in ways necessary to yield advantages for all, those who have submitted to these restrictions have a right to a similar acquiescence on the part of those who have benefited from their submission.”

Richard will explore some objections the principle of fairness (PoF) attracts and note a striking implication drawn from it by Tommie Shelby. Richard suggests that if the PoF generates obligations of reciprocity owed to cooperators, such obligations can arise from unjust, indeed intolerably unjust cooperative ventures. Does the POF succeed in generating such obligations? Richard will try to urge a Yes answer, up to the possibility that the PoF is better reconceived in standard act consequentialist fashion, not as a part of fundamental level morality but instead as a subordinate norm justified maybe as a useful means, in some circumstances, to bring about better conformity to fundamental-level act consequentialist principle.

Date & time

Thu 27 Jun 2024, 3:30pm to 5:00pm


Level 1 Auditorium (1.28), RSSS Building 146 Ellery Cres. Acton 2601, ACT


Richard Arneson


Michael Barnes


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