Collected Papers

Front Cover
Harvard University Press, 1999 - Philosophy - 656 pages
John Rawls’s work on justice has drawn more commentary and aroused wider attention than any other work in moral or political philosophy in the twentieth century. Rawls is the author of two major treatises, A Theory of Justice (1971) and Political Liberalism (1993); it is said that A Theory of Justice revived political philosophy in the English-speaking world. But before and after writing his great treatises Rawls produced a steady stream of essays. Some of these essays articulate views of justice and liberalism distinct from those found in the two books. They are important in and of themselves because of the deep issues about the nature of justice, moral reasoning, and liberalism they raise as well as for the light they shed on the evolution of Rawls’s views. Some of the articles tackle issues not addressed in either book. They help identify some of the paths open to liberal theorists of justice and some of the knotty problems which liberal theorists must seek to resolve. A complete collection of John Rawls’s essays is long overdue.

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Collected papers

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In 1971, Rawls published A Theory of Justice, which has come to be generally regarded as the century's major systematic work of substantive ethics and political philosophy; about 20 years later, in ... Read full review


Outline of a Decision Procedure for Ethics
Two Concepts of Rules
Justice as Fairness
Constitutional Liberty and the Concept of Justice
The Sense of Justice
Legal Obligation and the Duty of Fair Play
Distributive Justice
Some Addenda
Fairness to Goodness
The Independence of Moral Theory
Kantian Constructivism in Moral Theory
Social Unity and Primary Goods
Political not Metaphysical
Preface for the French Edition of A Theory of Justice
The Idea of an Overlapping Consensus
The Priority of Right and Ideas of the Good

The Justification of Civil Disobedience
Justice as Reciprocity
Some Reasons for the Maximin Criterion
Reply to Alexander and Musgrave
A Kantian Conception of Equality
The Domain of the Political and Overlapping Consensus

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About the author (1999)

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

John Rawls, professor of philosophy at Harvard University, had published a number of articles on the concept of justice as fairness before the appearance of his magnum opus, A Theory of Justice (1971). While the articles had won for Rawls considerable prestige, the reception of his book thrust him into the front ranks of contemporary moral philosophy. Presenting a Kantian alternative to conventional utilitarianism and intuitionism, Rawls offers a theory of justice that is contractual and that rests on principles that he alleges would be accepted by free, rational persons in a state of nature, that is, of equality. The chorus of praise was loud and clear. Stuart Hampshire acclaimed the book as "the most substantial and interesting contribution to moral philosophy since the war."H. A. Bedau declared: "As a work of close and original scholarship in the service of the dominant moral and political ideology of our civilization, Rawls's treatise is simply without a rival." Rawls historically achieved two important things: (1) He articulated a coherent moral philosophy for the welfare state, and (2) he demonstrated that analytic philosophy was most capable of doing constructive work in moral philosophy. A Theory of Justice has become the most influential work in political, legal, and social philosophy by an American author in the twentieth century.

Samuel Freeman is Professor of Philosophy and Law, University of Pennsylvania.

Samuel Freeman is Professor of Philosophy and Law, University of Pennsylvania.

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