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Aaron Lercher

I too agree with Forrester that philosophers did not understand their own society. But does anyone really understand her own society?

Perhaps the idea is that one "understands" in a practical sense when one can accomplish something in society. If so, then we need to specify which political actions we are talking about. Revolution? Rawls isn't going to help us with that!

How about civil disobedience? Rawls is not going to help us with that in a substantive way. His writings are not going to be used for nonviolence training prior to a demonstration. What Rawls does is to show how an appeal to an ideal can, at least in that particular kind of situation, be a effective part of how one acts politically in the non-ideal world.

In my opinion, Rawls's discussion of civil disobedience is the heart of "Theory." Forrester did great archival work on Rawls and civil disobedience for which I am grateful, and I eagerly read that part of her book. But I didn't learn anything about civil disobedience from it.

I also agree with Forrester, in the passage quoted by Kogelmann, that we want "an account of interest, collective action, control, class, crisis." I do my best (and fail) to understand all of that. But I would look for a history book, not a philosophy book. Adam Tooze. Or maybe sociology.

John Quiggin

Rawls was, in broad terms, providing a philosophical basis for views that were already dominant in the US political class at the time he wrote, and have remained so in the liberal section of that class. So, it's unsurprising that his impact on practical politics,

The same is true, AFAICT, of Schmitt and Heidegger. The Nazis had no need for their philosophical support, even though it was eagerly offered. It was only in democratic societies that their ideas had any impact.

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