Reciprocity as Mutual Recognition

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* Article: Thom Brooks. Reciprocity as Mutual Recognition (The Good Society, Volume 21, Number 1, 2012



From the introduction:

"For Rawls, there is an important difference between competing forms of regimes and what he calls a "property-owning democracy" and "liberal socialism." This difference includes that only the latter best guarantees principles of justice and satisfies the criterion of reciprocity. In this article, I will focus on the importance of reciprocity for this account and what it reveals about the citizens found in property-owning democracies and liberal socialist regimes. These regimes do not merely correctly recognize and uphold the importance of central principles of justice, but they also correctly recognize each other in an identity-forming way. These citizens mutually recognize one another as free and equal, but also they identify with others in a common bond of citizenship. Rawlsian justice is more than about principles and reciprocity; it is also about mutual recognition and shared identity. This becomes clearer when we look to the reasons why Rawls favors some regimes over others.

The structure of this article is as follows. First, I begin with a brief explication of the relevant background. This will focus on Rawls's two principles of justice. Secondly, I will then explain how these principles are applied by Rawls to demonstrate which regimes may be acceptable for justice as fairness. This discussion will highlight the central importance of the criterion of reciprocity. The article will conclude with an examination of the importance of reciprocity in Rawls's account and how it may say something new about the citizens Rawls has in mind for regimes such as a property-owning democracy."