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David Duffy

FWIW, my only knowledge of this stuff is via John Harsanyi's (1975, but written 1973) "Can the maximin principle serve as a basis for morality. A critique of John Rawls's theory".

"...the concept of the original position...played an essential role in my own analysis of moral value judgments [1953, 1955], prior to its first use by Rawls in 1957...but the usefulness of this concept crucially depends on it being combined with a satisfactory decision rule."

Anyway, he only cites himself, von Neumann & Morgenstern, Arrow, Ramsey, and Anthony Down "An Economic Theory of Democracy" (1957).

PS "about to him them"

Eric Schliesser

Hi David,
You may enjoy the post on Riker linked to in this one.
There are variants of the original position out there in the decades prior to Rawls b. I would add, in addition to Harsanyi, also Buchanan/Tullock, and William Vickrey. (I have blogged about this a bit in the past.)
PS Merci, will correct


A few sort of random thoughts:
1) I'm slightly surprised to see no reference to the volume _Political Philosophy_ in the _Oxford readings in Philosophy_ series, edited by Anthony Quinton here. This series was, I think, for many areas very important in setting out "canonical" texts in analytic philosophy. (Searle's volume on philosophy of language, Strawson's on phiosophical logic, Foot's on ethics, Linksy's on reference and Modality, Raz on practical reasoning, etc.) Quinton's volume is in this sense odd. It's pre Theory of Justice (published in 1967), has nothing by Rawls at all, and has more citations of Strauss (1, plus one of Straussian H.V. Jaffa) than of Rawls (zero.) It does have some interesting papers in it (in particular a few by Brian Barry, and Hart's important "Are there any natural rights?"), but reading most of it, you don't get a strong impression that there was a very rich field here that got lost after the publication of TJ.

2) It's not implausible to describe Lastlett as "more of a historian", but he, himself, published Rawls's work in that series, and his work on Locke has been very influential on many philosophers. (His long, very helpful, introduction to the Cambridge History of Political Thought volume on the Two Treatises is one of the best things written on it, I'd say. If you read Rawls's lectures on Locke it's absolutely clear that Rawls is very heavily drawing from this.) (The series he edited didn't only reprint papers - Rawls's paper "Distributive Justice" was originally published in it, for example, though it did at least also reprint them. I'm not sure about the ratio of original to reprinted.)

3) Finally, I'd again insist that it's at least not obvious that Reisch has shown that "persecution was experienced" by many early analytic philosophers, at least not unless we are going to _really_ lower the level of what counts as persecution. My own view is that he doesn't make a very strong case for his causal claims at all, but at least I would want to insist that he's not shown that any significant figure was subject to, or had very strong fears of, "persecution".

Eric Schliesser

Hi Matt,
That's Great.

1) Wolff mentions and discusses Quinton's volume. So, the omission is by me. Simple answer: the piece on it is on the anvil. As to your claim that not much was lost; I kind of agree (if we take the Quinton volume as the baseline). If you go to my Riker piece from midweek, I think the third and fourth schools he discuss actually are attractive alternatives (because more shaped by and in dialogue with social science) to (or at least worth having alongside) the post-Rawlsian project but I know lots of folk will disagree with me.

2) Oh, when I say he's a historian, that's a compliment!:)

3) Remember that the Vienna and Berlin Circles (and fellow-travelers] had to flee their countries, and Russell had been imprisoned and denied jobs for his views. [So, we can ignore Reisch's cold war argument for my purposes!]

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