John 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.
Though the revised edition of A Theory of Justice, published in 1999, is the definitive statement of Rawls’s view, much of the extensive literature on his theory refers to the original. This first edition is available for scholars and serious students of Rawls’s 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.
The most substantial and interesting contribution to moral philosophy since the war.
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.
- 624 pages
- 1-9/16 x 6 x 9 inches
- Belknap Press
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