Rawls and the European Union

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    Renowned political philosopher John Rawls once expressed skepticism about the moral status of the European Union (EU). Yet generally EU scholars have either ignored Rawls or rather uncritically established positive links between his theory of domestic and international justice and the EU. This article argues that the EU cannot be morally justified from a Rawlsian perspective. Thus, Rawls’s Euro-skepticism is not just a personal opinion, but is embedded in his political philosophy. The argument basically entails that the EU cannot plausibly be understood in terms of a Rawlsian (i) domestic society or (ii) society of peoples. It is also argued that Rawls’s seemingly favorable yet rare mentioning of the ‘European Community’ means no theoretical support for the EU. Moreover, counter-arguments that the EU can be seen as in line with Rawls’s notion of a realistic utopia are shown to be false. In consequence, serious adherents of Rawls’s political philosophy cannot be committed EU defenders.
    Keywords: European integration, European Union, John Rawls, Law of Peoples, political liberalism,
    theory of justice
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number425
    Number of pages12
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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