The collection of essays After Rawls contains two important strands of research. The first provides new interpretations of John Rawls’s basic concepts, continuing dialogues with other philosophers, and suggestions for expanding the framework of his political philosophy to solve some of the most urgent problems of contemporary world. The second strand of research examines the European – and in our context, specifically Polish – reception of Rawls’s thought.
Today in Poland (and generally in Eastern Europe), we can observe the encounter of two major traditions – the tradition of liberal democracy and local religious-national traditions. In former communist countries like Poland, initial enthusiasm for Western liberalism has given way to more sober consideration of what a distinctly local (Polish) liberalism might look like. The very foundations of Poland’s constitutional order have been repeatedly revised and publicly debated on the basis of considerations such as these.
Rawls’s critique of political power in the name of justice, as well as his critique of capitalism and economic institutions, including the proposal of a “property-owning democracy”, reflects the central concerns of contemporary political philosophy and responds to the very basic tensions within the Western model of liberal democracy. Rawls’s model of a just and reasonable society has influenced thinking about how best to promote openness and inclusiveness in the public sphere. In this sense, his thought plays a paradigmatic role in contemporary discourse about legitimate constitutional order, constitutional identity, citizenship, political participation, the relationship between public and the private, and many other aspects of political philosophy today.