Justice as Fairness

Justice as Fairness : A Restatement

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This volume 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). John Rawls 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.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 240 pages
  • 152.4 x 228.6 x 17.78mm | 272.15g
  • The Belknap Press
  • Cambridge, Mass., United States
  • English
  • 2 line illustrations
  • 0674005112
  • 9780674005112
  • 89,732

Review quote

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. -- Robert Briscoe Boston Book Review 20010701 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. -- J. D. Moon Choice 20011101 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. -- Simon Blackburn Times Literary Supplement 20010928show more

Table of contents

Editor's Foreword Preface Part I Fundamental Ideas 1. Four Roles of Political Philosophy 2. Society as a Fair System of Cooperation 3. The Idea of a Well-Ordered Society 4. The Idea of a Basic Structure 5. Limits to Our Inquiry 6. The Idea of the Original Position 7. The Idea of Free and Equal Persons 8. Relations between the Fundamental Ideas 9. The Idea of Public Justification 10. The Idea of Reflective Equilibrium 11. The Idea of an Overlapping Consensus Part II Principles of Justice 12. Three Basic Points 13. Two Principles of Justice 14. The Problem of Distributive Justice 15. The Basic Structure as Subject: First Kind of Reason 16. The Basic Structure as Subject: Second Kind of Reason 17. Who Are the Least Advantaged? 18. The Difference Principle: Its Meaning 19. Objections via Counterexamples 20. Legitimate Expectations, Entitlement, and Desert 21. On Viewing Native Endowments as a Common Asset 22. Summary Comments on Distributive Justice and Desert Part III The Argument from the Original Position 23. The Original Position: The Set-Up 24. The Circumstances of Justice 25. Formal Constrains and the Veil of Ignorance 26. The Idea of Public Reason 27. First Fundamental Comparison 28. The Structure of the Argument and the Maximum Rule 29. The Argument Stressing the Third Condition 30. The Priority of the Basic Liberties 31. An Objection about Aversion to Uncertainty 32. The Equal Basic Liberties Revisited 33. The Argument Stressing the Second Condition 34. Second Fundamental Comparison: Introduction 35. Grounds Falling under Publicity 36. Grounds Falling under Reciprocity 37. Grounds Falling under Stability 38. Grounds against the Principle of Restricted Utility 39. Comments on Equality 40. Concluding Remarks Part IV Institutions of a Just Basic Structure 41. Property-Owning Democracy: Introductory Remarks 42. Some Basic Contrasts between Regimes 43. Ideas of the Good in Justice as Fairness 44. Constitutional versus Procedural Democracy 45. The Fair Value of the Equal Political Liberties 46. Denial of the Fair Value for Other Basic Liberties 47. Political and Comprehensive Liberalism: A Contrast 48. A Note on Head Taxes and the Priority of Liberty 49. Economic Institutions of a Property-Owning Democracy 50. The Family as a Basic Institution 51. The Flexibility of an Index of Primary Goods 52. Addressing Marx's Critique of Liberalism 53. Brief Comments on Leisure Time Part V The Question of Stability 54. The Domain of the Political 55. The Question of Stability 56. Is Justice as Fairness Political in the Wrong Way? 57. How Is Political Liberalism Possible? 58. An Overlapping Consensus Not Utopian 59. A Reasonable Moral Psychology 60. The Good of Political Society Indexshow more

About John Rawls

John Rawls was James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard University. He was recipient of the 1999 National Humanities Medal. Erin Kelly is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University.show more

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894 ratings
3.88 out of 5 stars
5 31% (279)
4 37% (334)
3 23% (210)
2 5% (43)
1 3% (28)
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