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Reading: Rawls’ Principle of Fairness and Permissible Free Riding


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Rawls’ Principle of Fairness and Permissible Free Riding


Bradley Hillier-Smith

London School of Economics and Political Science; University of London, GB
About Bradley
Msc student in Philosophy and Public Policy at the (2014-2015). He also holds a degree in History and Politics from Queen Mary. His interests cover the philosophy on the limits of free speech, speech act theory, left-libertarianism and the philosophy of John Stuart Mill and John Rawls. He also is involved in political campaigning.
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Is it morally permissible to reap the benefits of a good produced by the sacrifice of others without participating yourself? In this article I defend the actions of ‘free-riders’ who reap these benefits. Contrary to Rawls’ principle of fairness, which is generally upheld as a sound principle of co-operation, I suggest that free riding is permissible and unobjectionable. I argue that producing a good does not generate rights to coerce another individual into sacrifice. In some instances there may actually exist a moral obligation to provide goods to the free-rider.

How to Cite: Hillier-Smith, B., 2015. Rawls’ Principle of Fairness and Permissible Free Riding. Rerum Causae, 7(2), pp.153–160.
Published on 01 Jul 2015.
Peer Reviewed


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