This book originated as lectures for a course on political philosophy that Rawls taught regularly at Harvard in the 1980s. In time the lectures became a restatement of his theory of justice as fairness, revised in light of his more recent papers and his treatise Political Liberalism (1993). As Rawls writes in the preface, the restatement presents "in one place an account of justice as fairness as I now see it, drawing on all [my previous] works." He offers a broad overview of his main lines of thought and also explores specific issues never before addressed in any of his writings.
Rawls is well aware that since the publication of A Theory of Justice in 1971, American society has moved farther away from the idea of justice as fairness. Yet his ideas retain their power and relevance to debates in a pluralistic society about the meaning and theoretical viability of liberalism. This book demonstrates that moral clarity can be achieved even when a collective commitment to justice is uncertain.
Justice as Fairness is a concise, self-contained, and up to date presentation of Rawls' views...While Justice as Fairness does not present any theoretical departures from Political Liberalism, it deals with important topics Rawls never fully addressed before such as Marx's critique of liberalism and the moral short-comings of welfare state capitalism...Rawls' long-time readers will also be pleased to find that Justice as Fairness includes careful replies to Sandel, Sen, Okin and other critics on issues ranging from health care to the legal status of gender differences.
Rawls is one of the two or three most important political thinkers of the 20th century. His accounts of 'justice as fairness' and of 'political liberalism' are among the most widely discussed and cited in the field of political philosophy...[Justice as Fairness] provides an integrated statement of his political theory, drawing together and presenting in a unified way, and for the first time, the major arguments and both strands of his work. Even though it is a challenging volume, it will no doubt be the principal introduction to his thinking...An essential text.
There have been millions of words written about A Theory of Justice and many articles and several books by Rawls defending and expanding its doctrines. Justice as Fairness will almost certainly be the last of these, and it should take its place as the best and most comprehensive statement of Rawls's eventual position. It is an exemplary work in every way. Rawls's own virtues shine through. He follows the argument where it leads. He listens to his critics and acknowledges his supporters; he gives way when it is necessary, but remains firm where he can take a stand. Anybody convinced that political thought is all about disguised power, or rhetoric, or ideology in the bad sense of the word, should confront this book.
- 240 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Belknap Press
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