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LIBERAL EGALITARIANISM: AN EXAMINATION OF THE THEORIES OF JOHN RAWLS AND RONALD DWORKIN

Wayne Edward Fenske, McMaster University

Abstract

In this thesis, I will contrast the theories of John Rawls and Ronald Dworkin with a view to showing that Dworkin presents a theory of distributive justice which is superior to Rawls' theory of distributive justice. The reason for this is that Dworkin's theory incorporates considerations of individual choice and responsibility into the assessment of distributive justice to a greater extent than Rawls' theory.

The two theories are contrasted on four points: (1) Assessing the relative values of sets of primary goods which differ in character, (2) Providing for those with handicaps, (3) Allowing for individual initiative, (4) Protecting the interests of those who are better-off. Dworkin's theory, so I argue, is able to provide a more satisfactory account of how a theory of distributive justice should deal with each of these four issues. For this reason, it represents an important advance over Rawls' theory of distributive justice.