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​Scholar’s Book Places new Spin on Philosopher’s Theories

La Sierra University law and business professor Gary Chartier has proposed in his fifth book a broadened version of a renowned philosopher’s views of global justice by treating the interests of particular people across the globe, rather than their governments, as fundamental.

Dr. Gary Chartier, law and business professor, associate dean, Zapara School of Business. [Photos: LSU]In his new book Radicalizing Rawls: Global Justice and the Foundations of International Law, Chartier argues for a form of justice “in terms of what it means to treat particular people rather than states fairly,” he said. “Thinking in this way about justice is compatible with endorsing a model of international law that’s bottom-up rather than top-down—one in which law is consensual, not imposed by states with territorial monopolies on law-making and law-enforcing power.”

Radicalizing Rawls was published in February by Palgrave Macmillan, an international academic and trade publishing company. It expands upon the theories of political philosopher John Rawls in his influential work A Theory of Justice, first published in 1971. In Theory and in his 1999 book The Law of Peoples, Rawls presents an account of global justice as comprising those standards that would be embraced by equal representatives of societies, or “peoples,” deliberating without knowledge of their own actual positions in the global order.

Chartier argues that this approach privileges the dominant actors in particular societies and gives states priority over particular people. Among the practical effects of this approach, he argues, are insufficient concern for the protection of noncombatants during violent conflicts and a willingness to accept restrictions on immigration—restrictions, Chartier argues, that contribute dramatically to the persistence of global poverty.

Written intermittently over 13 years, Radicalizing Rawls is intended for scholars and students of political philosophy and international law. His overarching goal is to spur the rethinking of key norms of international justice. The book got its start as a paper for a law school course called “Theories of International Law.” “I expanded the paper in light of critical comments from journal reviewers. Then, I incorporated some more recent insights to turn it, perhaps unexpectedly, into an anarchist tract,” said Chartier. In what may prove to be the book’s most controversial section, he argues that Rawls’s principles of justice could be used to defend anarchy— the absence, he emphasizes, not of rules but of rulers—at the global level.

The Mises Daily, a web-based news publication of the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Alabama, published a first review of Radicalizing Rawls on March 13. In the review, philosopher and historian David Gordon challenges aspects of Chartier’s revision of Rawlsian theory while describing his work as “a book of outstanding merit [that] confirms his place as one of the best political philosophers of our time.”

On April 1, New York Times best selling author Thomas E. Woods Jr., a senior fellow of the Ludwig von Mises Institute and host of The Tom Woods Show published a review on his web site blog,, praising Chartier’s work. He also conducted a 30-minute interview with the author which is also available on Woods’ blog at States Woods, “Chartier’s work is a careful study, not a polemic, and he is generous with his subject rather than dismissive or condescending. As a result, he has a top publisher (Palgrave Macmillan), a slate of admiring blurbs from top scholars, and the satisfaction of having made a significant contribution to political philosophy.”

Chartier holds a JD from the University of California at Los Angeles (where he emphasized legal theory and public law) and a Ph.D. in ethics, theology and the philosophy of religion from the University of Cambridge, England. In 2010 he was awarded La Sierra University’s triennial Distinguished Scholarship Award. His byline has appeared some forty times in journals including the Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, Legal Theory, and Law and Philosophy. His work has been the focus of colloquia at the University of Arizona’s Center for the Philosophy of Freedom and at sessions of the American Philosophical Association’s Pacific Division. On March 12, 2014, he delivered a lecture and conducted discussion at Southern Adventist University in Tennessee focused on his 2011 book, The Conscience of an Anarchist.

At La Sierra his many services and activities have included coordinating the “Liberating Markets” lecture series featuring renowned scholars from around the country. He is also a director of the North American Religious Liberty Association—West and the Molinari Institute, and a senior fellow of the Center for a Stateless Society

Chartier’s previous books include Anarchy and Legal Order, Economic Justice and Natural Law, The Conscience of an Anarchist, andThe Analogy of Love. With friend and Molinari colleague Charles W. Johnson, he co-edited Markets Not Capitalism, which he discussed in a Fox Business Network television interview in December with host John Stossel.

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