Degrees of connection: A critique of Rawls's theory of mutual disinterest
Feminist Economics , Volume 6 - Issue 2 p. 1- 21
John Rawls's solution to the problem of justice between generations is premised on the idea that "a generation cares for its immediate descendants, as fathers say care for their sons" (John Rawls 1971: 288, emphasis added). This paper brings mothers into the Rawlsian social contract. I argue that, when children have more than one parent, there is a contradiction between the assumption of concern for descendants, which underpins Rawls's account of justice between generations, and the mutual disinterest assumption, which characterizes parties negotiating in the "original position." Concern for descendants creates connections within generations as well as across generations. The critique is internal and nonradical, but its implications are subversive. It demonstrates that an "add women and stir" liberal feminist reworking of Rawls's theory cannot be successful; bringing sexual reproduction out of the realm of nature and into the social contract necessitates a radical reconstruction of Rawls's theory.