Theory of Justice by John Rawls in Frame of Problems of Modern Conflictology

Г. С. Кузьмин


To analyze the problems discussed in Rawls’ fundamental work «A Theory of Justice» is one of the main topics for social scientists — both for those from the liberal part of the political spectrum and for their counterparts. Rawlsian paradigm is known as liberal egalitarianism. Rawls succeeded in demonstrating the restrictions of a classical liberal theory in its understanding of the mechanisms of arising of «natural» forms of inequality and misshapen social stratification. From the scope of a modern conflict management the key feature of a rawlsian paradigm is its recognition of a fundamentally inevitable conflict nature of society. «A Theory of Justice» continues a European contractarian tradition laid by the conceptual findings of Thomas Hobbs and John Locke. However, in case of rawlsian paradigm it is easily possible to recognize a qualitative step ahead in understanding of what is the essence of a so-called «original position» — a basic state which precedes the emergence of a social contract. This basic state is common for all the social subjects and creates conditions for matching the subjects’ interests. The «original position» is no more a historical allegory but a virtual space of a special kind which is being continually utilized for implicit negotiations about the ways of social development. But it is not a palpable political phenomenon nevertheless, not something we are able to distinguish clearly from the complex sphere of politics. The rawlsian «original position» in no more a war of all against all — bella omnia contra omnes — demanding a contract as a mean of limiting the violence. The «original positions» consists of conflict features in a modern way of understanding of what the social conflict is. Parties to the contract have contradicting interests and goals. But it is possible to reach these goals only by means of cooperation. That’s why we say Rawls interpret social contract as a contract of conflicting parties it terms of modern conflict management practice. This aspect of the rawlsian methodology have not been in the scope of a thorough conflict management analysis ever before.


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