Rawls as a practical philosopher

John Rawls is often seen as the archetypal abstract Theoretician within political philosophy. Some will also find his theory utopian and rationalist, in the negative sense. In this paper, though, the aim is to demonstrate that Rawls’ political philosophy is deeply practical. This is done by an interpretation of three different elements in his thought: Philosophical method, the original position, and publicity. The interpretations of Richard Rorty and Burton Dreben are criticized, whereas the thought of Ludwig Wittgenstein, Pierre Hadot, and Stanley Cavell are used to clarify Rawls’ project.

Keywords: John Rawls, political philosophy, practical philosophy, original position, publicity, Ludwig Wittgenstein