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A Theory of Justice

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Home » Books » Nonfiction » Politics » History & Theory

A Theory of Justice

By John Rawls

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Format: Paperback, 560 pages, Revised edition Edition
Other Information: 12 line illustrations
Published In: United States, 01 September 1999

Since it appeared in 1971, John Rawls's "A Theory of Justice" has become a classic. The author has now revised the original edition to clear up a number of difficulties he and others have found in the original book.

Rawls aims to express an essential part of the common core of the democratic tradition--justice as fairness--and to provide an alternative to utilitarianism, which had dominated the Anglo-Saxon tradition of political thought since the nineteenth century. Rawls substitutes the ideal of the social contract as a more satisfactory account of the basic rights and liberties of citizens as free and equal persons. "Each person," writes Rawls, "possesses an inviolability founded on justice that even the welfare of society as a whole cannot override." Advancing the ideas of Rousseau, Kant, Emerson, and Lincoln, Rawls's theory is as powerful today as it was when first published.

Table of Contents

Preface for the Revised Edition Preface PART ONE THEORY Chapter Justice as Fairness The Role of Justice The Subject of Justice The Main idea of The Theory of Justice The Original Position and Justification Classical Utilitarianism Some Related Contrasts Intuitionism The Priority Problem Some Remarks about Moral Theory The Principles of Justice Institutions and Formal Justice Two Principles of Justice Interpretations of The Second Principle Democratic Equality and The Difference Principle Fair Equality of Opportunity and Pure Procedural Justice Primary Social Goods as The Basis of Expectations Relevant Social Positions The Tendency to Equality Principles for Individuals: The Principle of Fairness Principles for Individuals: The Natural Duties The Original Position The Nature of The Argument for Conceptions of Justice The Presentation of Alternatives The Circumstances of Justice The Formal Constraints of The Concept of Right The Veil of Ignorance The Rationality of The Parties The Reasoning Leading to The Two Principles of Justice The Reasoning Leading to The Principle of Average Utility Some Difficulties with The Average Principle Some Main Grounds for The Two Principles of Justice Classical Utilitarianism, Impartiality, and Benevolence PART TWO: INSTITUTIONS Equal Liberty The Four-Stage Sequence The Concept of Liberty Equal Liberty of Conscience Toleration and The Common Interest Toleration of The Intolerant Political Justice and The Constitution Limitations on The Principle of Participation The Rule of Law The Priority of Liberty Defined The Kantian Interpretation of Justice as Fairness Distributive Shares The Concept of Justice in Political Economy Some Remarks about Economic Systems Background Institutions for Distributive Justice The Problem of Justice between Generations Time Preference Further Cases of Priority The Precepts of Justice Legitimate Expectations and Moral Desert Comparison with Mixed Conceptions The Principle of Perfection Duty and Obligation The Arguments for The Principles of Natural Duty The Arguments for The Principle of Fairness The Duty to Comply with an Unjust Law The Status of Majority Rule The Definition of Civil Disobedience The Definition of Conscientious Refusal The Justification of Civil Disobedience The Justification of Conscientious Refusal The Role of Civil Disobedience PART THREE: ENDS Goodness as Rationality The Need for a Theory of The Good The Definition of Good for Simpler Cases A Note on Meaning The Definition of Good for Plans of Life Deliberative Rationality The Aristotelian Principle The Definition of Good Applied to Persons Self-Respect, Excellences, and Shame Several Contrasts between The Right and The Good The Sense of Justice The Concept of a Well-Ordered Society The Morality of Authority The Morality of Association The Morality of Principles Features of The Moral Sentiments The Connection between Moral and Natural Attitudes The Principles of Moral Psychology The Problem of Relative Stability The Basis of Equality The Good of Justice Autonomy and Objectivity The Idea of Social Union The Problem of Envy Envy and Equality The Grounds for The Priority of Liberty Happiness and Dominant Ends Hedonism as a Method of Choice The Unity of The Self The Good of The Sense of Justice Concluding Remarks on Justification Conversion Table Index

About the Author

John Rawls was James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard University. He was recipient of the 1999 National Humanities Medal.

Reviews

In his magisterial new work...John Rawls draws on the most subtle techniques of contemporary analytic philosophy to provide the social contract tradition with what is, from a philosophical point of view at least, the most formidable defense it has yet received...[and] makes available the powerful intellectual resources and the comprehensive approach that have so far eluded antiutilitarians. He also makes clear how wrong it was to claim, as so many were claiming only a few years back, that systematic moral and political philosophy are dead...Whatever else may be true it is surely true that we must develop a sterner and more fastidious sense of justice. In making his peerless contribution to political theory, John Rawls has made a unique contribution to this urgent task. No higher achievement is open to a scholar. -- Marshall Cohen New York Times Book Review Rawls's Theory of Justice is widely and justly regarded as this century's most important work of political philosophy. Originally published in 1971, it quickly became the subject of extensive commentary and criticism, which led Rawls to revise some of the arguments he had originally put forward in this work...This edition will certainly become the definitive one; all scholars will use it, and it will be an essential text for any academic library. It contains a new preface that helpfully outlines the major revisions, and a 'conversion table' that correlates the pagination of this edition with the original, which will be useful to students and scholars working with this edition and the extensive secondary literature on Rawls's work. Highly recommended. -- J. D. Moon Choice [Rawls] has elucidated a conception of justice which goes beyond anything to be found in Kant or Rousseau. It is a convincing refutation, if one is needed, of any lingering suspicions that the tradition of English-speaking political philosophy might be dead. Indeed, his book might plausibly be claimed to be the most notable contribution to that tradition to have been published since Sidgwick and Mill. Times Literary Supplement Enlightenment comes in various forms, sometimes even by means of books. And it is a pleasure to recommend...an indigenous American philosophical masterpiece of the first order...I mean...to press my recommendation of [this book] to non-philosophers, especially those holding positions of responsibility in law and government. For the topic with which it deals is central to this country's purposes, and the misunderstanding of that topic is central to its difficulties...And the central idea is simple, elegant, plausible, and easily applied by anybody at any time as a measure of the justice of his own actions. -- Peter Caws New Republic With the simple carpentry of its arguments, its egalitarian leanings, and its preoccupation with fairness, Rawls's classic 1971 work, A Theory of Justice, is as American a book as, say, Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. -- Will Blythe Civilization

EAN: 9780674000780
ISBN: 0674000781
Publisher: Belknap Press
Dimensions: 23.5 x 15.5 x 3.6 centimetres (0.35 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years
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Hassan on
 
A Theory of Justice is a landmark treatise in ethics and philosophy, by John Rawls.
He describes his theory as "Justice as Fairness" and goes on to explain his two famous principles of justice: the liberty principle and the difference principle. He argues in favour of a reconciliation of liberty and equality.

This book remains highly influential and if you enjoy reading this book, you may also read Amartya Sen’s The Idea of Justice.

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