The current debate on justice

26 Aug

Heir of John Rawls, Michael Sandel is successful, he says what he says to many others who are successful: “Those who are successful tend to think it’s thanks to themselves”, certainly if they weren’t a professor at Harvard, they wouldn’t give assisted lectures by thousands of people, and could not speak of polarization without a clearer definition of its own position.

His book A tyranny of merit (Editora Civilização Brasileira, released in September 2020), drew the attention of progressive sectors, but there is a veiled criticism of these sectors, accused of “embracing, in response to the challenges of globalization, a culture of merit that led to a legitimate resentment of the working classes, of disastrous consequences that were manifested, even in the management of this pandemic” (Daily El País, September 2020).

It has the merit (making a paradox) of saying what is obvious, that without a policy of quotas and breaking the barriers of inequalities (including the cultural one that he points out) there is no possibility of mobility for the underprivileged, but the line of thought de Sandel is rooted in the readings of John Rawls, and his work “Liberalism and the Limits of Justice” (Gulbenkian, 2005) is proof of this, and both were colleagues at Harvard.

In the early 1980s, Rawls himself cited Sandel’s communitarian critique as “the most scathing of all” and although he called into question “deontology with a human face” (see the roots of this thought in the previous post), it was an inherent thought. to the Rawlsian theory of a “deontological liberalism” combined with a “reasonable empiricism”, the terms can be found in Sandel’s work.

In order to obtain a “liberal policy without metaphysical constraints”, Sandel called on his colleague Rawls, ultimately, to abandon the deontological argumentation of an “unencumbered self”, “incapable of self-respect” and “self-knowledge, in any morally serious sense”, see that there is an objectivism within what Hegel calls ethics.

Rawls himself had already been led to reformulate his political liberalism, starting from the context of reasonable pluralism and moving away from a comprehensive moral theory of justice.

Sandel’s lectures are successful in the US and now also abroad, and also in his case it is nothing other than the fruit of meritocracy (Harvard in this case), but his works must be read carefully.

SANDEL, Michael. (1982) Liberalism and the Limits of Justice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. In Portuguese (2005): Liberalism and the Limits of Justice. Trans. C.P. Amaral. Lisbon: Gulbenkian.



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