chapter  9
Rawls: A Racist Theory of Justice?
ByEdward Garrett
Pages 16

For Rawls racism is ruled out by his principles of justice. Here I wish to question in one particular way the extent to which, nevertheless, Rawlsian theory is as a matter of fact non-racist. There may be other arguments. In particular it might be suggested that the early Rawls is racist in proposing a comprehensive political morality with a universal reach when it is only the product of a particular political culture. 1 More generally, it might be argued that Rawls is implicated in liberalism’s commitment to the imperial project and its creation of ‘natives’ as savages as part of the substantiation of liberal law (see for example Fitzpatrick, 1990). The approach taken here differs from these possible arguments, however, in that it considers how Rawlsian justice may generate racism within societies rather than between them; and it considers this generation of racism within one specific context, that of criminal justice.