Reason and Justice

By Richard Dien Winfield

Subjects: Metaphysics
Series: SUNY series in Systematic Philosophy
Paperback : 9780887067112, 336 pages, July 1988
Hardcover : 9780887067105, 336 pages, July 1988

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Table of contents

1. The Two Traditional Approaches to Justification
1.1 The Appeal to Privileged Givens
1.2 The Appeal to a Privileged Determiner

2. The Challenges of Scepticism and Nihilism

3. The Current Impasse in Normative Theory
3.1 The Rehabilitation of the Foundational Approaches to Justice
3.2 The Resigned Embrace of Descriptive Theories of Justice

4. The Alternative of a Systematic Philosophy without Foundations

Part I. Dilemmas of the Metaphysical Approach to Truth and Justice

1. Given Determinacy and Justification

1.1 Positive Science and the Problem of the Given
1.2 The Lure of Privileged Givenness and the Path of Metaphysics
1.3 The Problem of Grounding Reason on Privileged Givens
1.3.1 The Lesson of Logical Positivism
1.3.2 The Impossibility of Justifying Any First Principles of Reasoning
1.4 Problems of the Metaphysical Conception of Reality

2. The Metaphysics of Justice

2.1 Plato's Discovery of the Basic Logic of Praxis Theory
2.2 Aristotle's Politics and the Internal Collapse of Praxis Theory
2.2.1 The Good and the Shadow of Relativism
2.2.2 Thje Praxis of Politics and the Appeal to Nature The Genesis of the State and the Relation between Politics and Non-Political Associations The Constitution of the State and Privileged Givenness

Part II. The Critique of the Given and the Appeal to a Privileged Determiner

3. The Futile Temptation of Transcendental Argument

3.1 The Move from the Privileged Givenness to a Privileged Determiner
3.2 The Temptation of the Transcendental Project
3.3 The Fundamental Dilemmas of Transcendental Philosophy
3.4 The Self-Elimination of Transcendental Argument

4. The Justice of Liberty

4.1 From Praxis to Liberty: The Rise of Freedom as the Principle of Justice
4.1.1 Freedom and the Validity of Justice
4.1.2 The Basic Dilemma of Liberal Theory
4.1.3 The Universal, Particular, and Individual Dimensions of Willing
4.2 The Logic of Liberty and the Paradoxes of Social Contract
4.2.1 The Natural Will and the State of Nature
4.2.2 The Perplexities of Social Contract

5. The Promise and Illusion of Practical Reason

5.1 Practical Reason and the Individuality of Freedom
5.2 The Impracticality of Practical Reason
5.3 Civil Society in the Service of Practical Reason
5.4 The Miscarriage of Rawls' Rehabilitation of Social Contract Theory
5.4.1 The Hidden Assumptions of Pure Procedural Justice
5.4.2 The Collapse of Rawls' Derivation of the Two Principles of Justice
5.4.3 The Incoherence of the Move to the Original Position

Part III. Freedom from Foundations and the Validity of Self-Determination

6. Self-Determination and Systematic Philosophy

6.1 The Perplexity of Abandoning the Appeal to Privileged Givens and Privileged Determiners
6.1.1 The Futile Route of Holism
6.2 Indeterminacy, Self-Determination, and Freedom from Foundations
6.2.1 Self-Determination as Immanent Development from Indeterminacy
6.2.2 The Advance from Indeterminacy as Self-Determination
6.3 Moving from Indeterminacy to Determinacy without Foundations

7. The Theory of Determinacy and the Quests for Truth and Justice

7.1 The Nature of the Logic of Determinacy
7.1.1 The Theory of Determinacy as a Science of Logic
7.1.2 The Argument of the Theory of Determinacy
7.1.3 Systematic Philosophy versus Coherence Theories of Truth
7.1.4 The Limit of the Theory of Determinacy
7.2 The Move from the Theory of Determinacy to the Theory of Reality
7.2.1 The Dogma of Realism and Idealism
7.2.2 Beyond Realism and Idealism
7.3 Normativity, Rational Reconstruction, and the Theory of Justice
7.3.1 Freedom as Normativity
7.3.2 The Rational Reconstruction of Justice

Part IV. The System of Justice

8. The Elementary Structures of Freedom

8.1 Justice as the Reality of Freedom
8.1.1 Freedom as Interaction: The Deduction of the Concept of Right
8.1.2 The Dilemma of Foundational Theories of Interaction
8.1.3 The Minimal Structure of Right
8.1.4 The Original Appropriation of Property
8.1.5 The Solution to the Vicious Circularity of Original Appropriation
8.2 The Move beyond the Minimal Structure of Justice
8.2.1 The Limits of Property
8.3 Morality and the Realization of Right

9. The Family as an Institution of Freedom
9.1 The Basic Structure of the Free Housegold
9.2 Natural Difference and Household Rights
9.2.1 Gender, Sexual Orientation, and the Rights of Spouses
9.2.2 Monogamy and the Nuclear Family
9.2.3 Natural versus Ethical Parenthood
9.3 The Place of Children in the Family
9.4 The Limits of Family Freedom

10. Economic Freedom and the Just Society
10.1. Justice and the Just Society
10.1.1 The Problem of a Just Economy
10.2 The Critique of Political Economy
10.2.1 The Dilemma of Political Economy
10.2.2 The Failure of Marx's Critique of Political Economy
10.2.3 The Promise of Hegel's Critique of Political Economy
10.3 Economic Freedom as the Minimal Structure of Social Justice
10.3.1 Social Freedom and Commodity Relations

11. Capital and the Legitimacy of Commodity Relations
11.1 The Questions Raised by the Conflicting Theories of Hegel and Marx
11.2 Justice and Commodity Exchange
11.2.1 Needs and Commodities as Factors of Freedom
11.2.2 Commodity Exchange and Exchange Value
11.2.3 The Labor Theory of Value and the Justice of Exchange
11.2.4 Capital and the Just Economy
11.2.5 The Subordinate Role of Capital in the Commodity Economy
11.3 Class and Economic Justice

12. The Realization of Social Justice
12.1 The Limits of Economic Freedom
12.2 The Social Enforcement of Property and Household Rights
12.3 Economic Interest Groups and the Just Society
12.4 Social Freedom and the Public Administration of Welfare
12.5 The Limits of Social Freedom

13. Democracy and the Just State
13.1 The Mandate of Political Freedom
13.1.1 The Injustice of Instrumental Politics
13.1.2 The Sovereignty of Politics
13.2 The Just Relation between State and Society
13.3 The Justice of Democracy
13.3.1 The Apparent Injustice of Political Freedom
13.3.2 The Wrong Defenses of Democracy Jefferson's Appeal to Praxis and Liberty Democracy and Rousseau's General Will The Pitfall of Lenin's Proletarian Democracy
13.3.3 The Three Requirements for the Justification of Democracy
13.4 Constitutionality, Positive Law, and Democracy
13.5 Constitutional Self-Government and the Division of Powers
13.6 Democracy for its Own Sake

14. The Historical Genesis of Justice
14.1 The Grounds for Rejecting any Philosophy of Factual Freedom
14.2 Freedom and the Genesis of Justice
14.3 The Political Character of the Genesis of Justice
14.4 The Foundation of the Just State and the Riddle of Constitution-Making
14.5 Formal versus Real Constitution-Making
14.6 Factual History and the Genesis of Justice




This is a finely argued, detailed, and comprehensive systematic theory of justice, brilliantly extending Hegelian ethics much as Rawls's Theory of Justice rehabilitated and extended classical Liberalism. Winfield argues that justice, like reason, must be self-grounding, and that to achieve this, it must be self-determined. The theory of justice must therefore abandon its appeal to metaphysically given or transcendentally constituted norms and instead determine the institutions of freedom. In pursuit of this task, Winfield offers insightful discussions of property relations, morality, the family, capital and commodity relations, economic and social justice, and the state. In contrast to Liberalism, which sees the state as instrumental to non-political ends, Winfield defends the democratic state as the just realization of freedom. Throughout, it is argued that justice is defined interactively, where one's freedom is determined by how one's interactions respect and foster the institutional freedom of others.

Although the author's arguments proceed systematically, at each stage he deals adroitly with the relevant major thinkers in the Western tradition—not only with Hegel, but with the ancients, the classical liberals, Marx, and contemporaries such as Rawls.

Richard Dien Winfield is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Georgia. He is also the author of The Just Economy.


"This book is a rigorously argued and uncompromising presentation of the neo-Hegelian view that a foundation-free philosophy is possible, that normative validity derives only from self-determination, and that justice is tied to reason and consists in the reality of freedom. As such, it presents a minority view that is powerful and controversial. In this age when many neo-Hegelians have lost a uniquely Hegelian character by abandoning the system and stressing intersubjectivity and interpretation, Winfield adopts an opposite point of view, presenting a systematic political philosophy based on self-determination, reason, and logic. " — Peter G. Stillman, Vassar College

"There are several things I like about this book: first, the breadth of the discussion covering the major figures, including Plato, Aristotle, Contractarians, Hegel, and Marx, and their different approaches in the history of philosophy; and, second, the systematic argument sustained through the whole manuscript. Winfield grounds his social philosophy in a new theory of epistemology and of metaphysics. Finally, I like the breadth of topics covered in Winfield's own systematic theory of justice. " — Wilfried Ver Eecke, Georgetown University