Social Justice in Contemporary Housing : Applying Rawls’ Difference Principle book cover
1st Edition

Social Justice in Contemporary Housing
Applying Rawls’ Difference Principle

ISBN 9781138486072
Published August 16, 2018 by Routledge
114 Pages

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Book Description

Philosophy is not usually seen as a guidance for modern housing policy, but in this new book, Dr Helen Taylor argues that there is something innovative, unusual, and worth discussing about the application of philosophy to housing. The philosophical framework used within this book is John Rawls’ conception of justice as fairness. The UK has gone through several shifts in housing policy over the past decade, most recently by introducing the controversial ‘Bedroom Tax’, in an effort to make more cuts to benefits and social welfare.

Social Justice in Contemporary Housing: Applying Rawls’ Difference Principle suggests that by using ideas of agency we can understand the impact that social policy has on individuals and wider society. The work outlines the liberal principle of legitimacy and argues that Rawls’ concept of reasonableness can, and should, be used to justify the intervention of policy in individuals’ lives. This book will be of interest to undergraduate and postgraduate students of housing as well as philosophy and social policy, and also those working around the creation and implementation of social housing in the UK.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 – Housing Studies, Philosophy, and Policy

The epistemological foundations of housing studies

The relationship between philosophy and policy

Applied philosophy

Policy: homelessness and housing first

Chapter 2 – The Role of the Reasonable in Public Justification


The two moral powers

The use of reasonableness as a regulatory mechanism

A political conception of justice

The liberal principle of legitimacy

Applying reasonableness to social policy: The ‘Bedroom Tax’

Chapter 3 – A Rawlsian Account of Justice

Justice as fairness

The difference principle

Applying the difference principle

Justifying the use of the difference principle

Reflective equilibrium

Extending the concept of reflective equilibrium

Chapter 4 – Primary Goods: An Appropriate Metric?

Criticisms of primary goods

Alternative metrics

Revising primary goods

Chapter 5 – Self-Command and Basic Justice

Self-respect as a primary good

Self-command and social freedom

The revised metric

Chapter 6 – Applying Philosophy to Housing

The modified test

Application to policy



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Helen Taylor is a lecturer in housing studies at Cardiff Metropolitan University, UK. She is Communications Officer for the Housing Studies Association, as well as a board member for housing sector organisations Newport City Homes and Cymorth Cymru, and sector publication Welsh Housing Quarterly.