Social visions and the just society: ss neoclassical theory an adequate basis for Rawlsian justice?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review


Rawls relies on the version of economic theory represented by Koopmans (1957) when constructing his theory of justice. In this paper it is argued that as economic theory à la Koopmans is representative of that theoretical tradition in which exchange forms the basis of value, it lacks a notion of cooperation that is sufficiently strong to support Rawls’s conception of society as a “cooperative venture for mutual advantage”. The social vision underlying Rawls’s argument is that of a modern economy subject to widespread specialisation and division of labour, yet neoclassical theory with its exchange focus is shown to be incapable of dealing adequately with such a case. The incompatibility of social visions between Rawls’s argument and the economic theory used in part in its construction is a source of structural weakness and illustrates graphically the pitfalls associated with uncritical reliance, in one discipline, on theoretical frameworks imported from another.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHeterodox economic perspectives on contemporary issues
Subtitle of host publicationproceedings, refereed papers of the Sixth Australian Society of Heterodox Economists Conference, 10-11 December, 2007, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
EditorsLynne Chester, Michael Johnson
Place of PublicationSydney
PublisherSociety of Heterodox Economists
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)9780733425820
Publication statusPublished - 2007
EventAustralian Society of Heterodox Economists Conference (6th : 2007) - Sydney
Duration: 10 Dec 200711 Dec 2007


ConferenceAustralian Society of Heterodox Economists Conference (6th : 2007)


  • history of economic thought
  • economics
  • social values
  • equity
  • justice
  • inequality


Dive into the research topics of 'Social visions and the just society: ss neoclassical theory an adequate basis for Rawlsian justice?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this