With Finals results due in any day now, I thought it about time that I made my thesis public for the strange souls that are interested. You can view it here. The title is ‘How Kantian is Justice as Fairness?‘ The aim was to explicate the key aspects of Kantian moral philosophy and Rawlsian political theory to show how the former lends support to the latter. This in turn, hopefully, helps us to locate Rawls’ place in the history of moral thought, and with some luck it will convince people that if one finds ideas like the Original Position attractive, one should also be willing to give due consideration to Kant’s constructivism, his idea of the Kingdom of Ends and his valuing of humanity.
Section 1 covers the constructivist metaethics implicit in the Groundwork, showing how Rawls employs the same background assumptions when exploring moral questions. It also defends the consistency of this justificatory method with Rawls’ use of reflective equilibrium. In section 2 I discuss Kant’s notion of and his argument for the value of humanity, before turning to the question of how this influenced Rawls’ framing of the Original Position. In section 3, I then give an account of what Kant meant by autonomy, before demonstrating how agents in the Original Position are not autonomous, but us, as agents in the real world, are when we follow the principles of Justice as Fairness. Then in section 4 I consider a minor respect in which the approaches of Kant and Rawls have been said to differ, but the allegation will be found to be mistaken.