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ISSN: 2183-2803

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A Neo-Rawlsian Approach to Residential Integration

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Abstract:  Over the past 40 years, the United States has engaged in various policies to integrate otherwise segregated black and white households within a shared space. However, little work has been done to fully articulate a moral argument for residential integration among black and white households. This paper offers what I refer to as the normative argument, which possesses two morally-impelled arguments for residential integration. Since the ethical appeal to integrate is often couched in the language of justice, I begin with a framework—based upon the work of the late philosopher John Rawls—for considering the moral aspects of residential integration. However, I go on to point out intractable problems related to the Rawlsian framework that would fail to flesh out all ethical considerations of the normative argument. From here, I provide a revised, or neo-Rawlsian, framework for understanding residential integration which addresses the aforementioned problems. This exercise is both important and necessary for the future of residential mixing, as better understanding the moral and ethical attributes of this discussion is, perhaps, the best means to lubricate the fundamental shift from 'spatial' to 'social' integration.

Keywords:  common good; integration; John Rawls; liberalism; residential housing; segregation; social capital; social integration



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