A Theory of Justice / Edition 2

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Overview

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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Editorial Reviews

Choice

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

Times Literary Supplement
[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.
Civilization

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

New York Times Book Review - Marshall Cohen
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.
New Republic - Peter Caws
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.
Choice - J. D. Moon
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.
Civilization - Will Blythe
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.
Choice
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
Civilization
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

New Republic
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 York Times Book Review
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

Times Literary Supplement
[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.
Thomas Nagel
The writings of John Rawls, whom it is now safe to describe as the most important political philosopher of the twentieth century, are very different. They owe their influence to the fact that their depth and their insight repay the close attention that their uncompromising theoretical weight and erudition demand.

The New Republic

New York Times Book Review

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.
— Marshall Cohen

New Republic

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.
— Peter Caws

New York Review of Books

The most substantial and interesting contribution to moral philosophy since the war.
— Stuart Hampshire

New York Review of Books - Stuart Hampshire
The most substantial and interesting contribution to moral philosophy since the war.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674000780
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/1999
  • Edition description: Revised Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 560
  • Sales rank: 356,023
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

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

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