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The Law of Peoples

Fouzia Noor-e-Saher Quddusi Department of Philosophy University of Karachi

INTRODUCTION: The view of realistic utopia presented by John Rawls (1921-2002) a great philosopher, the best representative of contemporary liberalism. John Rawls was an American moral and political philosopher. Rawls held teaching positions at Princeton, Cornell, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University.

The Law of Peoples is John Rawls most comprehensive and systematic statement of international thought. It is a remarkable and unusual essay. This view is situated in the intellectual context of modern Anglo-American international thought, aspiring to occu py the middle ground between the scepticism of the so-called realists and a politically inert utopianism. Rawls approach is to frame an ideal conception of international relation and then to work backwards to the principles for a non-ideal world. He refers to the ideal conception as realistic utopia which extends what are ordinarily thought to be the limits of practicable political possibility and in so doing reconciles us to our political and social conditions. In Law of Peoples, he means a particular political conception of right and justice that is related to the norms of international law and practice. In fact the term Laws of Peoples concerns to what the laws of all peoples ha ve in common. These peoples have their own internal governments, in the society of peoples there are differences of culture and thoughts; a law of people must be acceptable to reasonable peoples who are diverse. Rawls held that we can imagine a happier world in which everyone or all peoples have the same faith that we do. Political philosophy is realistically utopian when it extends to ordinary thought. The concept of this society is essential. Two main ideas motivate The Law of Peoples. The first is unjust war and operation, religious persecution and the denial of the liberty of conscience. The second is that once the gravest forms of political injustice are eliminated by different just social policies and establishing just basic institutions and then these great evils will eventually disappear. Rawls connects these ideas to the idea of realistic utopia. According to Rawls there are some conditions that are necessary for a realistic utopia:

1. Realistic utopia must rely on the laws of nature and achieve the stability, a stability for right reasons, it means stability brought about citizens acting correctly according to the appropriate principles of their sense of justice, which they have acquired by growing up under also participating in just institutions. 2. A liberal political conception of justice to be realistic is that its first condition be workable. 3. A condition for a political conception to be utopian is that it uses moral and political principles to specify a just and reasonable society , in other words for a realistic utopia reasonable, liberal conception should have to enumerate basic rights, assign them and give the assurance for all citizens that the essential primary goods to make them enable for competent use of their liberties. 4. Realistic utopia also insists that the category of the political conception must contain in itself all the essential elements for a political conception of justice. 5. When a democratic substance having constitution, political and social institutions which effectively direct its citizens to acquire the proper sense of justice due to the reasonable pluralism. The view of realistic utopia connected with the way citizens conduct themselves under the institutions and practices within which they have grown up. Rawls held that we depend on the facts of social conduct as historical knowledge and reflection has established them, for example the facts which historically political and social unity do not depend on the unity of religions and that well ordered democratic peoples do not engage in war with one another.

6. An important condition for a realistic utopia is that moral religious and philosophical unity is neither possible nor necessary for social unity because social stability must be rooted in a reasonable political conception of right and justice and should not be only a modus vivendie or in other words a way of life and more specifically it should not be an arrangement or compromise by means of which those who differ may get on together for a time. 7. One more criteria or requirement for realistic utopia is the political conception should have a reasonable idea of toleration within itself, for that will show the reasonableness of toleration by public reason. These are the conditions which are required for a reasonably just constitutional democracy or as Rawls called A realistic utopia . Rawls has also explained the conditions for a reasonably just society of peoples. For the Society of Peoples, Rawls specifically mentions that all those people who follow the ideals and principles of the Law of Peoples in their mutual relations. 1. The reasonably just society of well ordered is realistic as explained by Rawls with liberal conceptions of political justice also have a common good concept in this view which is called, the common good of achieving political justice for all citizens and preserving the free culture that justice allows. The idea of Peoples rather than state is crucial since it enables us to moral motive, a kind of loyalty to t he principles of the Law of Peoples that allows wars only in the case of self-defence to peoples. 2. A reasonably just Law of Peoples uses moral and political ideas to specify the just and reasonably right political arrangements for the Society of Peoples so it is really utopian. In fact there are various interests and the

distinction among reasonable and rational peoples which can show the relations among peoples may remain stable over time. 3. Third parallel condition for a reasonably just Society of Peo ples is that all the essential elements for a political conception of justice can be contained within the category of the political. 4. The degree to which a reasonably just, effective institutional process that enables members of different well-ordered societies to develop a sense of justice and support to their government in honouring the Law of the Peoples may differ from one society to another in the wider Society of Peoples. Thus the fact of reasonable pluralism is more evident within a society of well-ordered peoples than it is within a society alone. 5. Religious unity is not required by the unity of a reasonable Society of Peoples. 6. The concept of toleration is related to the idea of the reasonable and it is equally present in the wider Society of Peoples. The same reasoning is applicable in one case as in the other. Toleration must be followed by all members of the Society of Peoples. The idea of public reason for the Society of Peoples is analogous to the idea of Public reason in the domestic case. The concept that stability among peoples can never be more than a modus vivendie is clearly denied by the liberalism and by the idea of realistic utopia. In international politics there is an important place of the idea of a reasonably just society of well-ordered peoples and this is possible when such peoples exist and coordinate the actions of their government in wider forms of economical, political and social collaboration. Rawls following Kant says that the society of these peoples will make a group of satisfied peoples.

These satisfied peoples will have no thinking of war and through negotiation and trade they can fulfil their needs and economic interests. Some seem to think that this idea is a fantasy. I wouldn t deny either the historical uniqueness of the Holocaust, or that it could somewhere be repeated. The destruction of the Jews was carried out at great cost in men and equipment (use of railroads and the building of concentration camps, and much else) to the detriment of the desperate German war effort, especially during its last years. People of all ages, the elderly, children and infants were treated the same. In Hitler s mind a source of degeneration was the happening of intermarriage, he thought, Germany was on the way to perdition. Redemption could come only with liberation from the Jews, with their expulsion from Europe, or failing that, with their extermination. The fact of the Holocaust and our knowing that human society admits this demonic possibility, however, should not effect our hopes as expressed by the idea of a realistic utopia and Kant s foedus pacificum . Dreadful evils have long persisted. Great evils are sufficient unto themselves. But evils of the Inquisition and the Holocaust are not unrelated. Indeed it seems clear without Christian anti-semitism over many centuries especially harsh in Russia and Eastern Europe the holocaust would not have happened. Yet we must not allow these great evils of the past and present to undermine our hope for the future of our society as belonging to a Society of liberal and decent peoples around the world. The wrongful, evil and demonic conduct destroys us too and seals their victory. We must support and strengthen our hope by developing a reasonable and workable conception of political

right and justice applying to the relations between peoples. To accomplish this we may follow Kant s lead and begin from the political conception of a reasonably just constitutional democracy that we have already formulated.


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