Before John Rawls eventually entered the French canon of philosophy, he had attracted close attention in French public debate, as well as in disciplines like economics, not least to defend a third way between Marxism and libertarianism. Likewise, during the first half of the 1990s, controversies on distributive justice opened by Rawls substantially informed official reports on inequalities, as well as public debate on the reform of the French welfare state. This lecture uses a socio-historical analysis of the transnational circulation of texts by Rawls, as well as by Sen and Walzer, to show how the French reception of contemporary Anglophone political philosophy articulated with broader intellectual and political changes, such as the challenges to Marxist and Keynesian paradigms in the French Left, the neo-liberal turn in public policies, and the declining centrality of structuralism in French social sciences and humanities.
Mathieu Hauchecorne is the author most recently of La Gauche américaine en France. La réception française de John Rawls et des théories de la justice (1971-2010) (CNRS éditions, 2019), and co-editor of a special issue of Raisons politiques on the “Actualité de l’histoire sociale des idées politiques” (2017).