In Memoriam Paul Ricoeur (1913 – 2005)

This article presents a global survey of Paul Ricœur’s work which, beyond the diversity of the treated questions and matters, has in fact a deep unity. Having adopted an hermeneutic process which leads him to defend a theory of the narrative identity giving the concept of person of the French Personalists a philosophic foundation, Paul Ricœur proposes a coherent social philosophy which transcends the trationnal opposition between liberalism and socialism.

Quelques souvenirs de John Rawls

These lines briefly relate the scientific part of nearly fourty years of discussions with John Rawls. Their interest – if they have any – can rest in three contributions. First, this relation shows the genesis of John Rawls’ concepts and thought. Second, it implies a criticism of these concepts and shows how Rawls faced it. Finally, this desciption exhibits an essential feature of the history of polical philosophy, the idiosyncrasis of English-language thinking in this domain, in opposition to the rest of the world and in particular to the thought developed in France. Indeed, utilitarianism has only been the philosophy of English-language scholars. Rawls first is the philosopher who will have tried to put English-language political philosophy on the path of normality based on liberty and equality after two centuries of Benthamite dogmatism.

La justice linguistique comme justice coopérative

Understood as a question of co-operative justice, the issue of linguistic justice concerns the way in which the learning costs of a lingua franca must be shared between the various linguistic groups that benefit from the communication potential created by the existence of this lingua franca. The article approaches this question by first considering three prima facie plausible criteria to be found in the literature — economic, sociolinguistic and philosophical, respectively. Next it formulates putatively decisive objections to each of these within the framework of a simple example with two linguistic groups and proposes two further criteria, indistinguishable in this simple framework, which it then generalises to the general case of n linguistic groups. In this more general framework, one of these two criteria turns out to be blatantly untenable, while the other seems to survive the challenge of potentially counter-intuitive implications, at any rate as long as one bears in mind the distinction between co-operative and distributive justice.

Les sources du moi. La formation de l’identité moderne, Charles Taylor

In accordance with the hermeneutic approach underlying the works of Charles Taylor, we propose to follow the thread of his argumentation in Sources of the Self. This book is essential for economists because it allows them to question, and even to limit, the validity of the tools they traditionally use when addressing the problems of social justice.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Political Economy, Economic Philosophy, and Justice

Jean-Jacques Rousseau criticizes modern society because of its injustice. A society, whose members are motivated by self-love and relate to each other through market exchanges, implies a loss of equality and ever-increasing artificial inequalities. A social and political philosophy built upon such a society and mirroring its characteristics leads to a naturalization of the type of relationships and abuses this social organization implies. Such a social and political philosophy will focus on efficiency rather than justice. Rousseau’s alternative to such a society and to the political and social philosophy associated with it, is based upon an economy of abundance and sharing like the one he describes in Julie, or the New Heloise. In this economy, moral, economic, and affective bonds become one and give way to relationships that are just and non-envious. Each member takes part in the production of social wealth through labor and each one receives a share of this wealth that provides each member a place in society that such person neither wishes to leave or change. It is not an egalitarian organization but it is just, meaning, free of envy. This economy is only the starting point because justice can only be attained in the political sphere. This vision explains why Rousseau rejects the physiocrats’ science nouvelle as a social philosophy because economics deals with efficiency but says nothing about justice. This exploration shows the similarities and dissimilarities between Rousseau’s analysis and welfare economics, especially, common traits such as envy-free equilibria as found in the theory of economic justice. However, these similarities are limited because Rousseau’s project contains a radical transformation of the individual no longer guided by self-love.

Is the private company a part of Rawls’s basic structure?

This paper clarifies the status of the firm vis-à-vis the Rawlsian basic structure of society. This status is ambiguous due to uncertainties in Rawls’s conception of the firm and his definition of the basic structure. The paper identifies two perspectives regarding the firm in Rawls: an inclusivist perspective defines the firm as an entity ontologically distinct from the basic structure; while a constitutivist perspective views the firm as an institution that possibly forms part of the basic structure. The paper then reviews several interpretations of the basic structure before offering a more inclusive version, which notably includes some informal structures. Linked to the institutionalist conception of the firm, this expanded definition of the basic structure results in an extended constitutivist perspective regarding the firm. It thus provides liberal egalitarianism with firmer ground for critically assessing businesses.

Analogies and justice in exchange

In the Aristotelian tradition, justice in exchange or just price is established by owners of goods through a discussion and a logic of analogy. For them justice is not defined by equality but constitutes a qualitative relationship, obtained by comparison with an quantitative equality.