Date of Award

May 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Blain Neufeld

Committee Members

Joshua Spencer, Stan Husi


Justice as Fairness, Liberal Socialism, Means of Production, Property-Owning Democracy, Rawls, Reasonableness


Although John Rawls’s work has been incredibly influential in political philosophy, the question of how Rawls’s principles of justice would be realized in the institutions of a just society has only recently received significant attention. Stated most clearly in Justice as Fairness: A Restatement, Rawls discusses five regimes, only two of which are compatible with justice as fairness: liberal socialism and property-owning democracy. Rawls argues that both regime types can satisfy his principles of justice and choosing which regime to institute depends on the culture of the nation in question. In this essay, I argue that although both liberal socialism and property-owning democracy can conform to Rawls’s principles of justice, we have reason to favor the former over the latter. I focus on a key Rawlsian concept, reasonableness, and track its development in the two regime types. I argue that liberal socialism has mechanisms in place to support the reasonableness of citizens over time that property-owning democracy lacks. Therefore, ceteris paribus, we ought to prefer liberal socialism.