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Transcendental vs. comparative approaches to justice: a reappraisal of Sen's dichotomy

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In The Idea of Justice, Sen describes two competing approaches to theorising about justice: “transcendental institutionalism”, in which he includes Rawls, and “realisation-focused comparison”, in which he includes Condorcet and himself. The objective of this paper is to demonstrate that a comparative approach cannot exist without a transcendental dimension. Contrary to Sen, who claims that a transcendental theory is neither necessary nor sufficient in order to frame comparative judgments, it is shown that a transcendental dimension is a necessary, albeit not sufficient, condition of any comparative approach. To illustrate our thesis, we refer to the works of three great authors: Condorcet, Sen himself and the later Rawls.
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Keywords: Condorcet; Rawls; Sen; reason; social justice

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 3, 2016

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