I should like to take a few moments to respond to several comments and also to explain my approach to Rawls’ work. I talk a good deal about Rawls’ A Theory of Justice for four reasons: First, because he is by common agreement the most influential social and political theorist in the Anglo-American philosophical world during the last one hundred years and as a political philosopher, I feel a certain obligation to engage with his theories in whatever way I think is appropriate; Second, because Rawls’ theoretical efforts bear an interesting relationship to Kant’s moral theory, which I have of course been very engaged with for sixty years, and I find it rewarding to think through the structure of his argument in that regard; Third, because Rawls claims, and really never deep down gives up the claim, that he is proving a theorem in Bargaining Theory, a subject about which I know a good deal, and I enjoyed writing a book showing that the theorem was invalid [this, pace Jerry Fresia’s comment about puzzles]; and Finally because I am secretly envious of Rawls for achieving the reputation that I never did in the field of political philosophy [O.K., so now it is not so secret.]
I am actually not at all taken by Rawls’ interminable, endlessly revised elaborations of the fretwork and detail of his bloated theory. A Theory of Justice is, as I have several times remarked, a slender monograph in Game Theory wearing the philosophical equivalent of a cinematic fat suit. Since I am not particularly sympathetic to Rawls’ view of modern society, his opinions about all manner of things do not arouse my interest. But his original idea, to overcome the standoff between utilitarianism and intuitionism by invoking the social contract tradition modernized by Game Theory, was brilliant, in my judgment, and that is worth discussing.
So, whether Rawls did or did not endorse the Welfare State or Democratic Socialism at some point in his career is of no importance to me. If I seek inspiration of a socio-political sort, I read Marx rather than Rawls, or even Mannheim and Weber [neither of whom Rawls gives any evidence of having read seriously.]