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Transitional JusticeNOMOS LI$
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Melissa S. Williams, Rosemary Nagy, and Jon Elster

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780814794661

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814794661.001.0001

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What Is Non-Ideal Theory?

What Is Non-Ideal Theory?

Chapter:
(p.233) 9 What Is Non-Ideal Theory?
Source:
Transitional Justice
Author(s):

Gopal Sreenivasan

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9780814794661.003.0010

This chapter presents John Rawls' ideal and non-ideal theory of justice. The ideal theory argues that institutions are well ordered when they are both just and known to be just, and when individuals both accept and comply fully with the requirements these institutions impose on them. This notion suggests two different ways in which circumstances may fail to be ideal. On the one hand, background institutions may not be just; on the other hand, individuals may not fully comply with the standing requirements placed on them. For each kind of defective case, there is a corresponding branch of non-ideal theory—the partial compliance theory and the transitional theory. The former specifies what happens to an individual's obligations when others fail to do their fair share within some distributive scheme, while the latter specifies the obligations that individuals have to bring just institutions into existence.

Keywords:   John Rawls, ideal theory, non-ideal theory, partial compliance theory, transitional theory, theory of justice

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