John Rawls's work on justice has perhaps drawn more commentary and aroused wider attention than any other work in moral or political philosophy in the 20th century. This is a collection of his essays, some of which articulate views of justice and liberalism distinct from those found in his books. They are important in themselves because of deep issues about the nature of justice and moral reasoning, and liberlism they raise, as well as for the light they shed on the evolution of Rawls's views.
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(235mm x 155mm x 43mm)
Harvard University Press
Publisher: Harvard University Press
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US Kirkus Review »
A nearly complete collection of Rawls's short essays from 1951 through 1998. What is arguably the most widely discussed political theory of the second half of the 20th-century emerged from an evolutionary process. By making available in one volume the papers through which Harvard philosopher Rawls initially tried out his ideas, Freeman provides easy access to the steps taken along the way. This book will be primarily useful as a reference work; few if any intrepid souls will attempt to read it cover-to-cover. Doing so, however, exposes the true nature of Rawls's achievement. As others have observed regarding A Theory of Justice, Rawls begins with an original, brilliant idea encapsulated in the principles of "justice as fairness," then builds complexity around it by adding arguments that respond to objections, both anticipated and actually raised by critics. Unlike most scholars who focus on one topic throughout their careers, however, Rawls is not just repackaging the same material. He takes objections seriously and struggles to overcome them, pushing forward his thinking by developing new arguments that add depth to his original ideas rather than simply moving on to new subjects. The result has been the most sustained effort in all of Western philosophy to construct a complete theory of justice. Along the way his originality has been manifested in creations that have become part of the standard lexicon of political philosophy, including the "difference principle," the "maximin criterion," and most notably the "veil of ignorance." What the reader will find in this volume are the starts' and stops, the grappling with issues of moral philosophy, and especially later in his career, the confrontation with concerns such as religious belief that threaten the assumptions of rationality and the positive value of reasonableness upon which his vision of justice depends. A convenient and welcome compilation. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - John Rawls
John Rawls was James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard University. He was recipient of the 1999 National Humanities Medal. Samuel Freeman is Professor of Philosophy and Law, University of Pennsylvania.