A Theory of Justice

Front Cover
Harvard University Press, 2009 - Law - 560 pages

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.

 

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This is one of the greatest books I've ever read. Rawls presents the only compelling theory of (social) justice I have read. He clearly refutes utilitarianism and other weak theories of justice like libertarianism. Instead, he provides an alternative, compassionate and rational framework for constructing a society. I cannot recommend this book enough. I'm thoroughly disappointed by the fact that it has received such poor reviews. It is evident the people who have read this do not understand his arguments. 

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A Great Book

Contents

CHAPTER I JUSTICE AS FAIRNESS
3
2 The Subject of Justice
6
3 The Main Idea of the Theory of Justice
10
4 The Original Position and Justifications
15
5 Classical Utilitarianism
19
6 Some Related Contrasts
24
7 Intuitionism
30
8 The Priority Problem
36
46 Further Cases of Priority
263
47 The Precepts of Justice
267
48 Legitimate Expectations and Moral Desert
273
49 Comparison with Mixed Conceptions
277
50 The Principle of Perfection
285
CHAPTER VI DUTY AND OBLIGATION
293
52 The Arguments for the Principles of Fairness
301
53 The Duty to Comply with an Unjust Law
308

9 Some Remarks Moral Theory
40
CHAPTER II THE PRINCIPLES OF JUSTICE
47
11 Two Principles of Justice
52
12 Interpretations of the Second Principle
57
13 Democratic Equality and The Difference Principle
65
14 Fair Equality of Opportunity and Pure Procedural Justice
73
15 Primary Social Goods As the Basis the of Expectations
78
16 Relevant Social Positions
81
17 The Tendency to Equality
86
The Principle of Fairness
93
The Natural Duties
98
CHAPTER III THE ORIGINAL POSITION
102
21 The Presentation of Alternatives
105
22 The Circumstances of Justice
109
23 The Formal Constraints of the Concept of Right
112
24 The Veil of Ignorance
118
25 The Rationality of the Parties
123
26 The Reasoning Leading to the Two Principles of Justice
130
27 The Reasoning Leading to the Principle of Average Utility
139
28 Some Difficulties with the Average Principle
144
29 Some Main Grounds For the Two Principles of Justice
153
30 Classical Utilitarianisms Impartiality and Benevolence
160
Institutions
169
CHAPTER IV EQUAL LIBERTY
171
32 The Concept of Liberty
176
33 Equal Liberty of Conscience
180
34 Toleration and the Common Interest
186
35 Toleration of the Intolerant
190
36 Political Justice and The Constitution
194
37 Limitations of Principle of Participation
200
38 The Rule of Law
206
39 The Priority of Liberty Defined
214
40 The Kantian Interpretation
221
CHAPTER V DISTRIBUTIVE SHARES
228
42 Some Remarks About Economic Systems
234
43 Background Institutions for Distributive Justice
242
44 The Problem of Justice Between Generations
251
45 Time Preference
259
54 The Status of Majority Rule
313
55 The Definition of Civil Disobedience
319
56 The Definition of Conscientious Refusal
323
57 The Justification of Civil Disobedience
326
58 The Justification of Conscientious Refusal
331
59 The Role of Civil Disobedience
335
Ends
345
CHAPTER VII GOODNESS AS RATIONALITY
347
61 The Definition of Good for Simpler Cases
350
62 A Note on Meaning
355
63 The Definitions of Good for Plans of Life
358
64 Deliberative Rationality
365
65 The Aristotelian Principle
372
66 The Definition of Good Applied to Persons
380
67 SelfRespect Excellences and Shame
386
68 Several Contrasts between the Right and the Good
392
CHAPTER VIII THE SENSE OF JUSTICE
397
70 THE Morality of Authority
405
71 The Morality of Association
409
73 Features of the Moral Sentiments
420
74 The Connection Between Moral and Natural Attitudes
425
75 The Principles of Moral Psychology
429
76 The Problem of Relative Stability
434
77 The Basis of Equality
441
CHAPTER IX THE GOOD OF JUSTICE
450
79 The Idea of Social Union
456
80 The Problem of Envy
464
81 Envy and Equality
468
82 The Grounds for the Priority of Liberty
474
83 Happiness and Dominant Ends
480
84 Hedonism as a Method of Choice
486
85 The Unity of the Self
491
86 The Good of the Sense of Justice
496
87 Concluding Remarks on Justification
506
Conversion Table
517
Index
521
Copyright

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About the author (2009)

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

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