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A Theory of Justice: Original Edition

A Theory of Justice: Original Edition

by John RawlsJohn Rawls
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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674017726
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 03/31/2005
Series: Oxford Paperbacks 301 301
Edition description: Original Edition
Pages: 624
Sales rank: 341,072
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.56(d)

About the Author

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

Table of Contents

Preface for the Revised Edition



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


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


Equal Liberty

The Four-Stage Sequence

The Concept of Liberty

Equal Liberty of Conscience

Toleration and The CommonInterest

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


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


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