San Diego Law Review


Jeremy Waldron

Document Type



This Article considers the relation between theories of justice - such as John Rawls's theory - and theories of socioeconomic rights. In different ways, these two kinds of theories address much of the same subject matter. But they are quite strikingly different in format and texture. Theories of socioeconomic rights defend particular line-item requirements: a right to this or that good or opportunity, such as housing, health care, education, and social security. Theories of justice tend to involve a more integrated normative account of a society's basic structure, though they differ considerably among themselves in their structure. So how exactly should we think about their relation? The basic claim of this Article is that we should strive to bring these two into closer relation with one another because it is only in the context of a theory of justice that we can properly assess the competition that arises between claims of socioeconomic right and other claims on public and private resources.