Rawls's Thin (Millean) Defense of Private Property
Persky, Joseph J.
PublisherCambridge University Press
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This article suggests that Rawls's break with early utilitarians is not so much over the greatest happiness principle as it is over the relation of the institution of private property to justice. In this respect Rawls is very close to John Stuart Mill, arguing for a cleansed or tamed version of the institution. That said, Rawls's defense of private property remains very thin and highly idealized, again following Mill. If Hume and Bentham fail to demonstrate their claims, Rawls and Mill do little better. Rawls, like Mill, has constructed a challenging standard, admits to severe limitations on our empirical knowledge, and remains deeply ambivalent over the role of private property.