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The role of benevolent absolutisms is somewhat peculiar, since there is nothing to say that these societies could not accept the Law of Peoples in its entirety.
One might ask whether benevolent absolutisms can really accept and honor the Law of Peoples, however, since these states are not peoples at all, precisely because members are denied a meaningful political role.
Even though human rights do not constitute the whole of the Law of Peoples, they do constitute a part of it, and if benevolent absolutisms can "respect" human rights, they can respect (and honor) the other principles as well.
This interpretation is further strengthened by the fact that Rawls holds that (in addition to well-ordered societies), "any society that follows and honors a reasonably just Law of Peoples" has a right to self-defense, and that benevolent absolutisms, specifically, have a right to self-defense.
Not because there is any particular reason to suppose that benevolent absolutisms would be averse to assistance among societies, but because the goal of the assistance is to enable burdened societies to become well ordered.
Rawls's typology of states is not perfectly systematic, and one might wonder what theoretical purpose benevolent absolutisms serve.
Now, the reason why Rawls assumes that benevolent absolutisms are nonaggressive, presumably, is to carve out a conceptual space between decent societies and outlaw states.
He discarded the terms Platonic form, essence, and others, then continued: "Accordingly, by way of employing a term devoid of misleading suggestions, I use the phrase eternal object." (3) Thus he seemed unaware of the dangers of the absolutism eternal.
For instance, is the word beginning an absolutism? The danger of that word has been pointed out in a recent polemical discussion of cosmology, in the following passage: We often read scientists who refer to "the beginning of the universe." They are being careless with their language, for to the best of our knowledge the universe had no beginning.
This advice does not amount to a relaxation of standards, for the attempted absolutism causes blockages in the student.
In fact, the word adequate itself might be considered an absolutism, for what is more finalistic than fitting just right?
It is tempting to perpetrate the aphorism, "Every absolutism is a pathology." But methodological honesty would require us to go on to say, "including this one." Then where would we be?