Justice, Stability and Toleration in a Federation of Well-Ordered Peoples

In a time where Europeans reflect on how to reflect human rights and solidarity in the Constitutional Treaty, this paper develops a theory of federal justice to respond to some key issues. Aspiring to supplement Rawls’ Law of the Peoples, particular emphasis is put on the justification of differentiated human rights and distributive inequality in a federal order.

ARENA Working Paper 22/2004 (pdf)

Andreas Føllesdal

Europeans currently reflect on how to express and promote human rights and solidarity in their common institutions in the new Constitutional Treaty now facing ratification. What is the scope of toleration towards states that violate human rights, within and beyond its borders? And what is the scope of permissible economic inequality across states in such a federation of democracies committed to domestic solidarity? John Rawls' Law of Peoples sought to be a plausible extension of a liberal conception of justice for a domestic regime to a Society of Peoples, laying out "the ideals and principles of the foreign policy of a reasonably just liberal people". The mixed reception of The Law of Peoples suggests that better justifications are required on at least two counts, concerning respect for states that deny its citizenry certain human rights, and concerning standards for distributive justice. The paper develops aspects of a theory of federal justice to offer further - and perhaps better - Liberal Contractualist arguments regarding these two issues. The European Union may need a differentiated human rights policy, and denies that the Difference Principle, even if appropriate for domestic justice, should apply to a federal order. Disagreements with Rawls' Law of Peoples largely concern the arguments offered for these conclusions.

Tags: fundamental/human rights, federalism, normative political theory
Published Nov. 9, 2010 10:52 AM