A Theory of Justice

Finalist, National Book Awards 1972 for Philosophy And Religion

A Theory of Justice by John Rawls book cover
ISBN 9780674880146
Belknap Press/Harvard University Press

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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.