In this paper, I try to articulate the core of John Rawls's theoretical shift from A Theory of Justice to Political Liberalism by examining his idea of democracy.
Rawls's theory of justice gradually displays the democratic character. In Political Liberalism, he introduces the idea of Public Reason to his theory. This idea allegedly plays a significant role in Deliberative Democracy; therefore Rawls is regarded as one of the vanguards of Deliberative Democracy. But how can his liberal theory be consistent with his democratic shift?
In my opinion, Political Liberalism differs from A Theory of Justice with regard to the place of democracy. In A Theory of Justice, democracy is derived from “Justice as Fairness”, whereas Political Liberalism presupposes the democratic arrangement, and “Justice as Fairness” is offered as the most reasonable conception of justice for our democratic society. Thus Political Liberalism admits that “Justice as Fairness” is but one example of a reasonable liberal conception of justice.
This difference corresponds to shift in the way of justification of “Justice as Fairness”. In my point of view, “Justice as Fairness” in A Theory of Justice is justified through “Wide Reflective Equilibrium” (“in the case of one person”), whereas it is “Full Reflective Equilibrium” (“Wide and General Reflective Equilibrium”) that plays very important role in justification of “Justice as Fairness” in Political Liberalism. The latter Reflective Equilibrium includes dialogical moments.
It is concluded that the place of democracy in his theory shifts with a change in the structure of the justification of “Justice as Fairness”, and his position in Political Liberalism can be interpreted as a dialogical approach to justice.