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1. A Theory of Justice: Original
2. Political Liberalism (Columbia
3. Lectures on the History of Political
4. Why Political Liberalism?: On
5. Justice as Fairness: A Restatement
6. A Brief Inquiry into the Meaning
7. Rawls's 'A Theory of Justice':
8. Rawls (The Routledge Philosophers)
9. Rawls's 'A Theory of Justice':
10. John Rawls: His Life and Theory
11. Rawls and Habermas: Reason, Pluralism,
12. On Rawls (Wadsworth Notes)
13. Collected Papers
14. John Rawls (Philosophy Now)
15. The Law of Peoples: with "The
16. Reclaiming the History of Ethics:
17. John Rawls: An Introduction
18. Lectures on the History of Moral
19. Legacy of John Rawls (Continuum
20. Habermas and Rawls: Disputing

1. A Theory of Justice: Original Edition
by John Rawls
Paperback: 624 Pages (2005-03-31)
list price: US$29.50 -- used & new: US$21.23
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Asin: 0674017722
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Though the "Revised Edition of A Theory of Justice", published in 1999, is the definitive statement of Rawls's view, so much of the extensive literature on Rawls's theory refers to the first edition. This reissue makes the first edition once again available for scholars and serious students of Rawls's work. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (56)

1-0 out of 5 stars A Tremendous Error
In 'A Theory of Justice' John Rawls bases arguments on 'The Original Position'. In the 'Original Position' one is unaware of one's social position in life and unaware of one's talents. Basically, the 'Original Position' demands one adopt a viewpoint that is transcendent to where one is. The 'Original Position' is transcedent to the individual as the center of a black hole is transcendent to an individual using the Hubble Space Telescope. To reach the 'Original Position' one has to implode to a point. Absolutely zip is gained by attempting to start from the 'Original Position'.Individuals are never under any circumstances in the 'Original Position' and in no circumtances can one enter the 'Original Position'. In the 'Original Position' one is no longer a thinking creature. An individual making decisions always has some grasp of what thatindividual's social status and talents are and is always making decision from the standpoint of where that individual is. Another huge problem with 'The Theory of Justice' is that 'A Theory of Justice' makes the disadvantaged a mill stone around the necks of individuals who are meritorious. The operative word in the last sentence is 'makes'.A Theory of Justice' strongly argues against assisting meritorius individuals but ratherRawls demands that the claims of the meritorious be overlooked. The meritorius are beasts of burden for the disdvantaged vis-a-vis Rawls. Turning meritorius individuals against the disadvantaged doesn't asisst the disadvantaged.

Both utilitarianism and social contract theoriesdemand that a transcendent be reached. With utilitarianism the welfare of society which istranscendent to the individual has to be reached and with social contract theories the individual has to be lopped away until the 'individual' becomes a point i.e. the individual basically vanishes. The 'points' of social contract theories are transcendent to individuals.

The correct starting point is, of course, the individual and the individual chooses to provide basic goods for all and assist the meritorius. Such is optimum from the standpoint of the indvidual as individuals are flourishing in the world the individualis living in and great things are happening in the world the individual is living in. Of course, the individual who chooses basics for all and also chooses to assist the meritorious is other than narcissistic but being other than narcissistic is best for that individual.

Basically the 'Original Position' is completely incoherent. The 'Original Position' is therebecause individuals are supposedly all narcissistic but if one is narcissistic one wouldn't in fact agree to 'adjourn to the 'Original Position' if one could but, of course, one can't adjourn to the 'Original Position' and one can't because in the 'Original Position' one is a 'no one'. In the 'Original Position' even that there are people is ungraspable by a 'founder'. Rawls could have answered people don't really ever enter the 'Original Position' no brain capabilites are lopped off and one has all the usual brain facilities but then one hasn't entered the 'Original Position' and one does know one's status and talents. Say for example one knows one is a particle physicist or anastronomer. No way on Earth could a particle physicist be for junking huge particle accelerators and no way on Earth could an astronomer be talked into junking space telescopes.Completely arbitrarily Rawls holds the disadvantaged are only interested in economics and a fair shot at running for office so huge particle accelerators and space telescopes must go vis-a-vis 'A Theory of Justice'.

There is alot of sense to delivering basic goods and liberties to all, the individual holds that life is better in such a world for that individual,but the difference principle makes no sense at all and to start from the 'Original Position' is to start from a hallucination. Rawls comes up with the bizarrest constitutional convention ever.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great book, but a bit verbose
This book is a must read for anyone interested in philosophical theories of social justice. There are essentially three main schools of thought on morality as regards the nature of a good society. Utilitarian, Kantian, and Aristotelian. To oversimplify, Utilitarians are bean counters, Kantian are duty-mongers, and Aristotelians are the World-bank style capacity-builders and champions of healthy self-actualization.

Rawls is hard to categorize, because his notion of "veil of ignorance" allows him to synthesize thoughts from almost all three of these schools. True, at first he seems closest to Kant, who says "Hey you, act such that you would not mind if your way of acting were to become the universal way of acting for everyone. Rawl, kind of, adds that acting in this manner is justifiable especially if you assume you never know what side of social justice you might end up at -- the receiving end or the giving one. So it is only rational to act in such a manner that it would not matter to you where you'd end up. As such, he is somewhat of a kindred soul to Utilitarianism as well, because such calculations of give-and-take smack of bean counting in a sense. And of course, it is a symptom of Aristotelianism to be "groping you way around" in dealing with complex moral choices that resist easy classification.

Overall, Rawls achieves a very powerful (and influential) synthesis. I don't buy all of his arguments, but they demand respect regardless of your stance. One criticism I have is his style of writing. It is verbose. And example from page 471: "These individuals display skills and abilities, and virtues of character and temperament, that attract our fancy and arouse in us the desire that we should be like them, and able to do the same things." Would it not be more respectful towards the reader's time to say something like this instead "They inspire us to emulate them"? I think all of his arguments could have been just as effectively made in a book one third of the size of this one.

2-0 out of 5 stars The abandonment of political rationalism
There are three significant problems with Rawls' _Theory of Justice_. First, the theory fails to take account of the difference between community and society. Second, the theory creates a conflict between private virtue and public virtue. And third, the theory, although it purports to be a secular basis for justice, surreptitiously adopts certain assumptions that have their origin in, and are only tenable in, a religious view of man and society. In conclusion, I argue that Rawls' Theory, although it has the form of a rationalist account, in reality merely abstracts from the prevalent prejudices of our society without ever subjecting them to rational scrutiny. It amounts to an abandonment of rationalism in the investigation of justice.

1. Community and society

Ferdinand Tönnies makes a distinction between a community (Gemeinschaft), in which men and women share a common will and work together toward a shared goal, and society (Gesellschaft) in which each person has an interest distinct from that of others and forms only temporary and expedient alliances with others. A Gemeinschaft is formed by ties of kinship, physical proximity, or friendship. Within it men share material goods and have sufficient sympathy for one another to imagine themselves in the place of others and alter their behavior accordingly. A Gesellschaft is formed by ties of commerce. Within it men trade material goods. Their sympathy for strangers is rarely sufficient to require anything more than to avoid harming them.

Rawlsian liberalism is paradoxical because it demands that men trade material goods with one another as in a Gesellschaft, and yet it also demands that men have sufficient sympathy with one another to imagine themselves in the place of another as in a Gemeinschaft.

In other words, Rawlsian liberalism supposes that a society that is in fact composed of distinct families is somehow obligated to form its conception of justice as if it were one big family. It demands that we form a conception of justice that takes no account of our actual family ties and substitutes the artificial tie of a common humanity.

In a genuinely communist society all men and women would constitute one family, and would feel free to demand of one another anything one might demand of kin. In a society composed of distinct families, however, it is only literal kin, not figurative kin, that share so intimately with one another. A family comports itself toward the stranger with the more aloof sorts of virtue, such as charity and justice. With the stranger, privacy, including private property, is always respected. Only in the most dire of circumstances does one intrude upon the privacy of a stranger.

If common humanity is a sufficient criterion for us to live as one family, then why are we trading with one another? If it is not a sufficient criterion, then why must we treat a stranger as we treat our kin?

2. Private and public virtue

For the communist, both private and public virtue consist in sharing with fellow men. For the libertarian, both private and public virtue consist in respecting privacy. But for the Rawlsian liberal, private virtue consists in respect for privacy, yet this virtue is not practiced by the state, while public virtue consists in sharing, yet this virtue is not demanded of individuals. Whether our conception of justice is libertarian or socialist, we can at least imagine a utopia of virtuous men in which the state would wither away. But there is no conceivable Rawlsian utopia.

The conflict between private virtue and public virtue is made particularly vivid in the case of agents of state. What we find objectionable about the behavior of agents of the Third Reich, for example, is not merely that their conception of public virtue was misguided, but that they were far too willing to compromise standards of private virtue in the name of this misguided conception. We do not necessarily expect an ordinary man to have a highly developed understanding of what constitutes the good for society, but we do expect him to hesitate when he is told that the good of society requires him to behave in ways that are not in accordance with private virtue. Under Rawlsian liberalism, private virtue demands respect for privacy and property rights, and yet public virtue demands that agents of the state disregard private virtue and confiscate property on behalf of the underprivileged. Are such agents not then committing an error analogous to--even if it is not nearly as grave as--that of the agents of the Third Reich?

3. The surreptitious use of religion

Even in supposedly secular political thought like that of Mr. Rawls, the state is often imagined to be acting ex parte deus, in the role of God. The sort of justice which applies to the state is thus imagined to be a divine rather than human sort of justice, under which all men must be treated equally, because all men are the children of God, and the Father must treat all his children equally.

The religious underpinnings of the Theory of Justice become most readily apparent in the doctrine of "equality of fair opportunity," which requires that all men begin from an equal starting point and subsequently be given opportunities to become unequal. In order for there to be an "equal starting point" there must be a starting point. Why is this "starting point" the conception or birth of an individual organism? Why is the individual rather than the family lineage the unit by which "equality of fair opportunity" is to be assessed? Why should the "starting point" be defined as the beginning of a man's life, as opposed to that of some distant ancestor? The ostensibly secular Mr. Rawls is very much under the spell of the "soul superstition," the notion that everything significant about a person begins anew with each generation.

In Rawls' conception of "equality of fair opportunity," opportunity to improve oneself beyond one's fellow men is allowed in all areas except one. No one is allowed to become a better parent. No one is allowed to provide his children a better education than the norm for their level of ability, or to supply them with more capital than the norm.

In a regime of private property, a family that for many generations has been assiduous and thrifty, while at the same time sparing in the production of offspring, will impart to each generation a legacy of both intellectual and physical capital that is not available to scions of irresponsible and profligate families. This is unpleasant for the less fortunate, but we must be careful not to place the blame in the wrong place. Does the blame lie with a regime that grants privacy to families and thus allows them to improve themselves over generations? Or does it lie in the irresponsibility and profligacy of particular ancestors? The underprivileged person is more likely to blame the regime, since this explanation allows him to leave his ancestors free from blame, and thus preserve his love and respect for them. In most cases, blaming ancestors will not accomplish anything anyway. Most are dead. The remainder are usually still poor. None is unable to make amends. To blame the regime is more convenient both because we do not love the regime as we love our family, and because the regime actually has the power to redress our grievances. The fact that this is a more convenient explanation does not mean that it is a better one, however.

Central to Rawls' project is the premise that a man or woman must find his membership in the human species to be more of a defining characteristic of himself than his membership in a particular family or his descent from a particular line of ancestors. This premise may accord with the intuitions of those who do not have particularly distinguished ancestors, but perhaps will not sit so well with those descended from accomplished families. For the democratic Rawls, the fact that the persons of the former sort constitute a majority makes their sentiments, ipso facto, true.

4. Conclusion

Although the form of _A Theory of Justice_ makes it appear as if it were a rationalist account, it in fact constitutes an abandonment of reason. While the substantive recommendations of the theory are correctly deduced from a set of clearly articulated premises, the premises themselves are never subject to rational scrutiny. Rawls' later replies to his critics reveal the criterion by which the premises of his Theory were in fact chosen. In his essay "Justice as Fairness: Political not Metaphysical," (Philosophy and Public Affairs 14 (1985), p. 230) Rawls explains that his intention is to collect and refine the "settled convictions" of our society in order to form a basis for a "shared conception of justice." He leaves aside the question as to whether or not these settled convictions are correct.

Rawls' intent is not to subject prevailing beliefs about justice to a rationalist critique, but rather to devise a system that gives them a rationalist expression. Underlying the project is the prejudice that prevailing opinion must inevitably be correct, and requires merely articulate expression rather than rational scrutiny.

2-0 out of 5 stars The Original Edition isn't for first timers; get the Revised Edition
Rawls significantly revised his book after its initial publication, clarifying points and answering criticisms, and he considers the Revised Edition to be the definitive version. But the Original Edition is what comes up in Amazon searches, with no indication that there even is a revised edition, so use the ISBN to do your search to find it:




In the introduction, the publishers of the reprinted Original Edition said they wanted it to remain in print mainly for Rawls scholars, to trace his thought.

Rawls says in his introduction to the 1999 publication of the Revised Edition, "This revised text includes what I believe are significant improvements...(and is) superior to the original."

1-0 out of 5 stars Collectivism + Material Equality = Oppressive Morality
Even if Rawls' theory of determinism was true, it doesn't give others the right to deprive me of the fruits of my labor.

If one man likes to work from dawn to dusk, and I like to lay on the beach drinking rum and coke, economic inequality will occur. It would be precisely as unjust to compel me to work as it would be to compel the worker to surrender the fruits of his labor to me.

Liberals complain about conservatives legislating morality (a valid criticism), and then they turn around and legislate the most oppressive morality in the world today.

... Read more

2. Political Liberalism (Columbia Classics in Philosophy)
by John Rawls
Paperback: 576 Pages (2010-03-04)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$15.48
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Asin: 0231130899
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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This book continues and revises the ideas of justice as fairness that John Rawls presented inA Theory of Justice but changes its philosophical interpretation in a fundamental way. That previous work assumed what Rawls calls a "well-ordered society," one that is stable and relatively homogenous in its basic moral beliefs and in which there is broad agreement about what constitutes the good life. This book goes deeper to ask how a stable and just society of free and equal citizens can live in concord when divided by reasonable but incompatible doctrines.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (11)

5-0 out of 5 stars An excellent improvement of the concepts of "A Theory of Justice"
Here, Rawls tries to improve his argument of "justice as fairness" in "A Theory of Justice" posing it as actually a (one of the most) validperspective under a political liberalism, in order to ensure equal rights and freedom in a democratic constitutional cooperative society. I would recommend that the first-time interested reader to get a glimpse at "A Theory of justice" (at least the first part) before this one, for a better understandment of his root ideas; for even though it covers most of the TJ's concepts, it does in a form of "restatement" to forfeit the adaptation of his theory due to the flaws he noticed in the first book. But even for the first time reader, it might seem somewhat easy to understand basically what he is trying to say.

One of the greatest books of one of the greatest thinkers, not to say philosophers or politicians of our time. A must-have for anyone regarding subjects from law and democracy to morals and philosophy in general.

5-0 out of 5 stars Must read for Poli Sci
Rawl's focuses on his definition of a "well-ordered" society and rules...good read for a different view point on justice.

5-0 out of 5 stars This is for the quality of the product, I have not read the book yet
Class barely started, so I haven't read the book yet, but initial inspection shows that the book is in flawless condition. I'm so glad I bought it here instead of my University bookstore, who charged about 50% more for this book, and that is WITH the shipping I paid. :-)

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!
Very interesting and orginal book. It's arrived very fast. Thank you.
Alessandro Mussini - Genova

5-0 out of 5 stars A final Revision
Rawls has finally brought his powerful project of sociological and political philosophy to a conclusion with insights he may not have expected when he first published Political Liberalism in 1993.
The inclusion of his 'Reply to Habermas', after my having also read Habermas' critique, helped him and specially me to understand the issues raised in that exchange and to enjoy following them. The inclusion also of 'The Idea of Public Reason Revisited' is very worthwhile, as it maps out the amendments he had started to make to Political Liberalism that had been cut short by his death.
... Read more

3. Lectures on the History of Political Philosophy
by John Rawls
Paperback: 496 Pages (2008-09-15)
list price: US$21.50 -- used & new: US$14.96
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Asin: 067403063X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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This last book by the late John Rawls, derived from written lectures and notes for his long-running course on modern political philosophy, offers readers an account of the liberal political tradition from a scholar viewed by many as the greatest contemporary exponent of the philosophy behind that tradition.

Rawls's goal in the lectures was, he wrote, "to identify the more central features of liberalism as expressing a political conception of justice when liberalism is viewed from within the tradition of democratic constitutionalism." He does this by looking at several strands that make up the liberal and democratic constitutional traditions, and at the historical figures who best represent these strands--among them the contractarians Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau; the utilitarians Hume, Sidgwick, and J. S. Mill; and Marx regarded as a critic of liberalism. Rawls's lectures on Bishop Joseph Butler also are included in an appendix. Constantly revised and refined over three decades, Rawls's lectures on these figures reflect his developing and changing views on the history of liberalism and democracy--as well as how he saw his own work in relation to those traditions.

With its clear and careful analyses of the doctrine of the social contract, utilitarianism, and socialism--and of their most influential proponents--this volume has a critical place in the traditions it expounds. Marked by Rawls's characteristic patience and curiosity, and scrupulously edited by his student and teaching assistant, Samuel Freeman, these lectures are a fitting final addition to his oeuvre, and to the history of political philosophy as well.

(20070420) ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great
This is an excellent set of lectures that give a fresh and
fascinating insight into the ideas of various political
philosophers. But what's important here is that the context for
Rawls's own ideas become more apparent, and this heritage from
these thinkers makes the enterprise of his own work appear deeper and
more meaningful. Don't miss this one.

4-0 out of 5 stars Useful
This very good book is a well edited transcript of Rawls' lecture notes from his political philosophy course.The heart of the book is a series of lectures on major contributors to social contract theory - Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau.These are clear, insightful, and sympathetic discussions of these thinkers with Rawls emphasizing the role of each philosopher's response to his contemporary problems in formulating their ideas.Rawls discusses as well some other thinkers not part of this tradition, Hume and JS Mill for utilitarianism, and Marx as representing a view completely outside the liberal tradition.Not surprisingly, aspects of each writer that Rawls found particularly interesting and important in formuation of his own distinguished contribution to the social contract tradition emerge from these discussions.This is particularly clear of his sympathetic discussions of Rousseau and particularly JS Mill.In Rawls presentation, Mill, not strictly a member of the social contract tradition, provides a progenitor of Rawls concept of public reason in the formulation of social institutions.As a plus, there are also transcripts of lectures on the important but lesser known Henry Sidgwick and Joseph Butler.
In his primary work, Rawls is not always easy to read.These lectures, however, are generally lucid.

5-0 out of 5 stars Here is Rawls' context according to Rawls
As the editor of this volume notes, "One great benefit of these lectures is that they reveal how Rawls conceived of the history of the social contract tradition, and suggest how he saw his own work in relation to that of Locke, Rousseau, and Kant, and to some degree Hobbes as well" (pg. x).Rawls was reluctant to publish these lectures: "It was only after he was prevailed upon to publish his 'Lectures on the History of Moral Philosophy'...that he agreed to allow his lectures on the history of political philosophy to be published as well" (pg. xv).
Rawls says his goal in these lectures is to "try to identify the more central features of liberalism as expressing a political conception of justice when liberalism is viewed from within the tradition of democratic constitutionalism.One strand in this tradition, the doctrine of the social contract, is represented by Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau; another strand, that of utilitarianism, is represented by Hume and J.S. Mill; whereas the socialist, or social democratic strand, is represented by Marx, whom I consider largely as a critic of liberalism" (pg.xvii). Rawls goes on to admit that his approach "do[es] not present a balanced introduction to the political and social philosophy" (pg. xviii).
The "Lectures on the History of Political Philosophy" are, more specifically, a history of modern contractual political philosophy.These lectures will provide added clarity to the tensions between his book A Theory of Justice and his Justice as Fairness: A Restatement.For example, Michael Sandel's, whose appraisal of Rawls works mostly off of "A Theory of Justice" alone, wrote in his book Liberalism and the Limits of Justice that Rawls offers "deontology with a Humean face" which entails, according to Sandel, that Rawls doctrine "justice is the first virtue of social institutions" a teleology based an a metaphysical notion of the self which is the exact thing Rawls wanted to avoid; Sandel says, "teleology to the contrary, what is most essential to our personhood is not the ends we choose but our capacity to choose them.And this capacity is located in a self which must be prior to the ends it chooses."Thus Sandel takes offense against Rawls' Kantian style distinctions like "original position," behind a "veil of ignorance."
However, with "Justice as Fairness" and other writings (e.g. Kantian Constructivism) Rawls became more clear that there is no noncircular argument for democratic ideas; he says in "Justice as Fairness: A Restatement," that, "since justice as fairness is intended as a political conception of justice as a democratic society, it tries to draw solely upon basic intuitive ideas that are embedded in the political institutions of a democratic society and the public traditions of their interpretation."
Rawls shows in these lectures on the history of philosophy how his philosophy is sufficiently historical and contingent to avoid much overworked metaphysics: "the same effect as that of a veil of ignorance may result from a combination of other elements.Thus, rather than exclude information, we can allow people to know whatever they now know and yet make the contract binding in perpetuity and suppose the parties to care about their descendants, indefinitely into the distant future.In protecting their descendent's as well as themselves, they face a situation of great uncertainty.Thus, roughly the same arguments, somewhat modified, pertain as with a thick veil of ignorance" (pg. 19; see also footnote 7 pg, 269).

These lectures, however, are not so much about Rawls' theory of justice.Rawls writes charitably about others throughout, when he does criticize it is insightful.These lecture notes are surprisingly detailed at times, with footnotes and full citations.A benefit for researchers will be the generous index at the book's end. ... Read more

4. Why Political Liberalism?: On John Rawls's Political Turn (Oxford Political Philosophy)
by Paul Weithman
Hardcover: 400 Pages (2010-12-03)
list price: US$65.00 -- used & new: US$60.91
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Asin: 0195393031
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In WHY POLITICAL LIBERALISM?, Paul Weithman offers a fresh, rigorous, and compelling interpretation of John Rawls's reasons for taking his so-called "political turn". Weithman takes Rawls at his word that justice as fairness was recast as a form of political liberalism because of an inconsistency Rawls found in his early treatment of social stability. He argues that the inconsistency is best seen by identifying the threats to stability with which the early Rawls was concerned. One of those threats, often overlooked by Rawls's readers, is the threat that the justice of a well-ordered society would be undermined by a generalized prisoner's dilemma. Showing how the Rawls of "A Theory of Justice" tried to avert that threat shows that the much-neglected third part of that book is of considerably greater philosophical interest, and has considerably more unity of focus, than is generally appreciated.

Weithman painstakingly reconstructs Rawls's attempts to show that a just society would be stable, and just as carefully shows why Rawls came to think those arguments were inconsistent with other parts of his theory. Weithman then shows that the changes Rawls introduced into his view between "Theory of Justice" and "Political Liberalism" result from his attempt to remove the inconsistency and show that the hazard of the generalized prisoner's dilemma can be averted after all. Recovering Rawls's two treatments of stability helps to answer contested questions about the role of the original position and the foundations of justice as fairness. The result is a powerful and unified reading of Rawls's work that explains his political turn and shows his enduring engagement with some of the deepest concerns of human life.

... Read more

5. Justice as Fairness: A Restatement
by John Rawls
Paperback: 240 Pages (2001-05-16)
list price: US$25.50 -- used & new: US$17.92
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Asin: 0674005112
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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This book 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). As Rawls writes in the preface, the restatement presents "in one place an account of justice as fairness as I now see it, drawing on all [my previous] works." He 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.

(20010701)Amazon.com Review
Few philosophers have made as much ofa splash with a single book as John Rawls did with the 1971 publication of A Theory of Justice. Thirty years later, Justice as Fairness rearticulates the main themes of his earlier work and defends it against the swarm of criticisms it has attracted. Throughout the book, Rawls continues to defend his well-known thought experiment in which an "original position"--a sort of prenatal perspective ignorant of our race, class, and gender--provides the basis for formulating ethical principles that result in a harmonious liberal state. In addition, he supplies carefully worked-out responses and, in some cases, reformulations of his theory. Those coming to Rawls for the first time will find a lucid portrayal of his position; those embroiled in the ongoing debate will encounter a closely argued and subtle rejoinder to his adversaries. Readers will be pleased that the daunting volumes of Rawls's previous work have been distilled to a digestible 214 pages. --Eric de Place ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

1-0 out of 5 stars Punch Your Professor in the Face if He Makes You Read This!
This has got to be one of the most absurd and worthless pieces of political babble I have ever come across.To sum up the whole book: Rawls really likes socialism but can't figure out how to create a moral justification for it and therefore creates names like "justice as fairness" and "equality and fairness" to make you think the socialist system really can be "good."If you hate freedom, you'll love John Rawls.At least Marx was a good writer with inspired conceptions.

Rawls has about 1,000 "lists" of conceptions and ideas that he points out such as his "five kinds of regimes, two principles, two moral powers, three fundamental ideas of justice and fairness, etc." which are given no proofs or content.It's as if he believes that if you put numbers and lists in front of meaningless words you can convince someone you are really thinking things out.Any reasonable reader will see right through this garbage as unintelligible nonsense that lacks any serious attempt at philosophical coherency.If you started at the last chapter and worked your way to the first you would come away with the same understanding as the other way around.

This man is a Utopian, and as with all Utopians must resort to confusion and obfuscation to avoid the blaring but simple questions that would make his "philosophy" fall to pieces.There is no conception of human nature, morals, metaphysics or ethics.Rawls skips all the building blocks of a sound philosophical system and goes straight to the last question of a philosophy which is Politics.It is no wonder his writings are so absurd.

4-0 out of 5 stars "Theory" Restated
In "Justice as Fairness," John Rawls summarizes, restates, defends, and, in places, corrects the argument of his epochal "A Theory of Justice."Rawls' basic aim is to articulate a conception of justice appropriate for a pluralistic democratic society.He is largely successful:many parts of "Justice as Fairness" are profound and gem-like.However, other parts are sketchy, digressions abound, and, weirdly, Rawls' argument flows backward, with the conclusions identified and unpacked before the premises (the "original position") are set forth.It's no surprise that "Justice as Fairness" began life as lecture notes.Bottomline:the book is a must read for anyone who enjoyed "A Theory of Justice."However, other readers might get lost or wonder what the fuss is about.

5-0 out of 5 stars Good follow up book
This book is a good follow up to Justice as Fairness.It clarifies some issues and restates some others.This is a must have for any ethics library.

4-0 out of 5 stars A great work of political philosophy
Rawls has done a marvelous job condensing the theory first presented in his massive A Theory of Justice into 200 lucid, succint, beautifully-argued pages.

Since the work is essentially a restatement, any review must take into account the effectiveness of that which was restated.For this, I would like to mention one area that Rawls ammended; subsequently, I would like to comment on how this change provided a complete new hermeneutical framework for the book.

At its core, the theory proposed by Rawls is based on a Kantian understanding of human persons and human freedom.Any familiar with Kant's political philosophy will remember the concept of the 'transcendental self', the self that is so completely free of human encumberances and entanglements that he is actually and literally free.This person literally has an autonomous free will and consequently has the capacity to be completely self-legislating.This is, of course, necessary if a person is to abide by the categorical imperative.Kant believes that a person cannot be free unless his will--his capacity to choose--is grounded in something pre-empirical.Rawls seems to believe this too.However, he understands that the idea of the 'trascendental self' is so shrouded in the obscurity of German Idealism as to be unhelpful for the average person.So, he sets out to bring the self to the earth and give it an imaginable, even a empirical, basis.And this is the function of the original position: to bring Kant's 'transcendental self' to the earth and provide a basis for it.This should be kept in mind throughout the reading.

While I enoyed the book thoroughly, I have a number of issues.First, Rawls himself says that the work can be read independent of any prior knowledge, and I take this to be true.Nonetheless, reading Justice as Fairness without preliminary familiarity with A Theory of Justice is bound to make the reading considerably more difficult.The reasons for this are many, the most notable being that Justice as Fairness is a restatement of a theory presented in an earlier work.Its job, essentially, is to fill gaps, answer arguments, and provide clarification that lacked in the original version (not to be confused with the 'original position').While Rawls alludes to the problems he intends to fix, it's almost impossible to fully grasp without a cursory understanding of A Theory of Justice.

In sum, the work is an excellent piece of analytical philosophy, one that is sure to be around for a while.Nonetheless, I would encourage anyone ready to dig into it to to read--or at least become familiar with--A Theory of Justice.

Adam Glover

5-0 out of 5 stars Culmination of a half century's work on political philosophy
Whether one agrees or disagrees with Rawls' theory of justice, almost all contemporary moral and political philosophy takes place in its shadow. If not for A Theory of Justice, generations of grad students would still indulge in tired debates over the meaning of Kant's categorical imperative and whether analytic philosophy merely defines the words we use to talk about philosophy. Luckily, this was not the case and we now have this book that expresses the most refined exposition of Rawls' views on justice to date. Attempting to address the criticisms leveled by Sandel, Walzer, Habermas, and others at his initial theory, Justice as Fairness integrates the concepts of "reasonable pluralism" and "stability for the right reasons" (the core concerns of Political Liberalism, although not in those words) articulated in articles scattered throughout journals over a span of three decades with the comprehensive philosophical doctrine in A Theory of Justice. Whether he succeeds in fully rebutting their objections is certainly up for debate, but Justice as Fairness should be essential reading for anybody interested in the philosophical underpinnings of a liberal, property-owning democracy.

That said, I would agree with the previous reviewer that a reader should at least be conversant in Rawls' ethical theory as described in A Theory of Justice to get the most out of this book. However, to those uninterested in the evolution of his thought and how its shortcomings have been repaired, Justice as Fairness is still a momentous work and will probably be used in introduction to ethics or political philosophy classes everywhere.

An obligatory note, since another reviewer is certain to mention Nozick: Nozick eventually became convinced that the Lockean proviso of justice in acquisitional holdings did not possess the requisite stability that would ensure that liberties owed to free and equal persons would be preserved and recanted some of the conclusions in Anarchy, Utopia, and State. As for Hayek's brilliant works, nobody seriously disagrees with his thesis that central economic planning leads inevitably to abuses as state oversteps individual liberties and that the mechanism of prices in a free market is the best aggregator and distributor of preferences. I just don't see what this has to do with libertarianism. Hayek is too fine a thinker to be shoehorned into such a confining box. ... Read more

6. A Brief Inquiry into the Meaning of Sin and Faith: With "On My Religion"
by John Rawls
Paperback: 288 Pages (2010-05-01)
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John Rawls never published anything about his own religious beliefs, but after his death two texts were discovered which shed extraordinary light on the subject. A Brief Inquiry into the Meaning of Sin and Faith is Rawls’s undergraduate senior thesis, submitted in December 1942, just before he entered the army. At that time Rawls was deeply religious; the thesis is a significant work of theological ethics, of interest both in itself and because of its relation to his mature writings. “On My Religion,” a short statement drafted in 1997, describes the history of his religious beliefs and attitudes toward religion, including his abandonment of orthodoxy during World War II.

The present volume includes these two texts, together with an Introduction by Joshua Cohen and Thomas Nagel, which discusses their relation to Rawls’s published work, and an essay by Robert Merrihew Adams, which places the thesis in its theological context.

The texts display the profound engagement with religion that forms the background of Rawls’s later views on the importance of separating religion and politics. Moreover, the moral and social convictions that the thesis expresses in religious form are related in illuminating ways to the central ideas of Rawls’s later writings. His notions of sin, faith, and community are simultaneously moral and theological, and prefigure the moral outlook found in Theory of Justice.

(20090612) ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars John Rawls y Dios. Una discusión forzada (en Español)
A Brief Inquiery into the Meaning of Sin and Faith: With "On my Religion" plantea al menos dos problemas que no deberían desatenderse: uno relativo a la interpretación de los contenidos sustantivos de la teoría liberal de John Rawls, y otro relativo a la interpretación de la obra de Rawls como un corpus intencional y deliberado publicado o aprobado por su autor.
Resulta claro que los textos en cuestión permiten que la Introducción de la edición, a cargo de dos de los discípulos más connotados del filósofo de Harvard, sugiera una ruta de interpetación de la obra de Rawls muy poco atendida, a saber, la de una teoría política compatible, y a veces hasta asimilable, a los puntos de vista comprehensivos o sustantivos propios de las doctrinas religiosas. Este tipo de interpretación no sólo recalcaría el caracter contextual y pragmatizado del liberalismo rawlsiano, sino que avisaría de su relación muy cercana con preocupaciones teológicas o religiosas que las lecturas estandar de Rawls había considerado de poca importancia o de plano irrelevantes. En este caso, la publicación de estos dos textos, muy lejanos uno de otro en el tiempo,tendería a diluir la fuerza de la neutralidad de la justicia rawlsiana, tan vigorosamente defendida bajo el criterio de la prioridad de lo justo sobre lo bueno (the priority of the Right over the Good) o de la indepedencia de la concepción política de la justicia respecto de los contenidos de primer orden de las doctrinas comprehensivas filosóficas, religiosas o morales. No queda claro que empezar a entender a Rawls como un autor cercano a las doctrinas religiosas que él, de manera explícita, deriva hacia el espacio o dominio no público, constituya un logro teórico que hubiera que celebrar.
Respecto del segundo tema, habría que decir que el criterio de los editores de los textos es discutible. Si el propio John Rawls había optado, primero, por no dar siquiera difusión y mucho menos enviar a una editorial esa tesis de licenciatura cuyos contenidos son, en efecto, teológicos, tal vez deberíamos entender que no la consideraba parte de un cuerpo teórico que el considerara digno de poner a debate en ese espacio de razón no pública, pero esencial, que es el debate académico y filosófico. Exhumar ese texto del olvido al que su propio autor lo condenó no parece ser atender a la intención rawlsiana de construir y perfeccionar una teoría liberal de la justicia centrada en el valor de la neutralidad y la equidad o imparcialidad(fairness).
Así que el texto nos deja con una impresión ambigua. Gracias a su publicación conocemos un poco mejor al Rawls autor y también sabemos un poco más de su proceso de maduración filosófica. Al mismo tiempo, debilitamos el valor de la neutralidad y validamos la desatención de los editores a la voluntad de un hombre que había decidido silenciar algún producto suyo que, a la vista de su propia construcción teórica posterior, parece que consideró indigno de ser publicado, es decir, estudiado y debatido por otros.

Dr. Jesús R. Zepeda
Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (Ciudad de México)

4-0 out of 5 stars A Brief Review
A Brief Inquiry is Rawl's undergraduate thesis.You can see that he was formulating his political philosophy in this theological work.His focus on community in explaining sin and faith is an interesting take on the traditional definitions of sin and faith which involve rebellion or obedience to God.Although this interpretation of the meaning of Sin and Faith might not be the traditional one, it is orthodox nonetheless. It is interesting to see what kind of philosopher Rawls was becoming even at a young age.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Real Rawls....
Stunning book. To think of any undergraduate writing a thesis this brilliant! It gives you a chance to see the evolution of Rawls' thinking, and the introductory essays by Nagel and Adams are excellent. ... Read more

7. Rawls's 'A Theory of Justice': An Introduction (Cambridge Introductions to Key Philosophical Texts)
by Jon Mandle
Paperback: 222 Pages (2009-11-16)
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A Theory of Justice, by John Rawls, is widely regarded as the most important twentieth-century work of Anglo-American political philosophy. It transformed the field by offering a compelling alternative to the dominant utilitarian conception of social justice. The argument for this alternative is, however, complicated and often confusing. In this book Jon Mandle carefully reconstructs Rawls's argument, showing that the most common interpretations of it are often mistaken. For example, Rawls does not endorse welfare-state capitalism, and he is not a 'luck egalitarian' as is widely believed. Mandle also explores the relationship between A Theory of Justice and the developments in Rawls's later work, Political Liberalism, as well as discussing some of the most influential criticisms in the secondary literature. His book will be an invaluable guide for anyone seeking to engage with this ground-breaking philosophical work. ... Read more

8. Rawls (The Routledge Philosophers)
by Samuel Freeman
Hardcover: 576 Pages (2007-07-17)
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Asin: 0415301084
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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In this superb introduction, Samuel Freeman introduces and assesses the main topics of Rawls' philosophy. Starting with a brief biography and charting the influences on Rawls' early thinking, he goes on to discuss the heart of Rawls's philosophy: his principles of justice and their practical application to society.

Subsequent chapters discuss Rawls's theories of liberty, political and economic justice, democratic institutions, goodness as rationality, moral psychology, political liberalism, and international justice and a concluding chapter considers Rawls' legacy.

Clearly setting out the ideas in Rawls' masterwork, A Theory of Justice, Samuel Freeman also considers Rawls' other key works, including Political Liberalism and The Law of Peoples. An invaluable introduction to this deeply influential philosopher, Rawls is essential reading for anyone coming to his work for the first time.

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Customer Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars Good Reference Book
I don't have much in the way of substantive comments. However, this book has served me well by offering a "standard" interpretation of Rawls that is both informative (to those of us who aren't Rawls scholars) and sophisticated enough to serve as a quick study for professional philosophers.

If you're a professional philosopher or aspiring to be one, this book could greatly improve your library.

5-0 out of 5 stars Seconding Brighouse's Opinion
This is one heck of a really good book.Prof. Brighouse (see his earlier review) was quite right.It introduces you to the intricacies of Rawls' profound thought in a way that's intelligible to the intelligent, motivated neophyte (favored with the benefit of classroom instruction).It reads easily and minces no words when it comes to driving home an important point.It provides context and demonstrates interconnections with pieces of Rawls' thought that lie scattered about in the extant Rawlsian literature -- secondary as well as primary.It provides prospective as no other Theory of Justice/Justice as Fairness exposition I know does.That the author and Routledge left out a 'to' on the fourth line from the bottom on page 112, or that they redundantly inserted a 'political' on the fifth line from the bottom of the major paragraph on page 351, in no way diminishes the overall readability of the book.The book's cover design features an image of a thick, many-paged tome -- intended to conjure the bulkiness of Rawls' great opus.But there is a subtle subtext to its imagery: this book is every bit as thick as Rawls' own, although this may (in part) be due to the particular grade of paper used in its production, as well as to the page-size.Be this as it may, this is a book I can heartily recommend.I emphatically do!

5-0 out of 5 stars The perfect companion to Rawls
I admit that I wasn't certain that Samuel Freeman's book on Rawls would be terrific. Two reasons. First, it is very long, and I imagined that a good introductory text would be less than 462 pages long (514 incl. glossary and notes). Second, although I'm a huge admirer of Freeman as a philosopher, all his work that I'd previously read is aimed squarely at scholars; he works on exceedingly difficult questions, makes complicated arguments, and although the pay off is always, in my experience, more than worth the effort, I never expect undergraduates, for example, to be able to make that effort.

But this book is a triumph. A brilliantly careful, utterly transparent, account of Rawls's thought and an admirable presentation of the state of the debates around Rawls's work. Forcing students to read Rawls is the right thing to do; but I shall never again force them to read him without providing Freeman's text as indispensable help.

When I started reading it I was in the midst of a glut of work, and kept trying to put it down so I could get on with things, but couldn't. It is, as it should be at this length, comprehensive--chapters on each of the two principles, on the OP, on the basic structure, and a wonderfully clear chapter on the importance of stability, and what it is that stability consists in. Then a chapter on Kantian constructivism, which really helped illuminate (for me, at least, but I have always been unsure about this) the relationship between the Dewey lectures and the later work, two chapters on political liberalism and one on the Law of Peoples. I guess the book is intended primarily as a companion in a comprehensive course on Rawls's work--read all three main books, and Freeman's so that the students can tell what is going on. But the first six chapters alone justify the (low) price of the book (so it is useable alongside A Theory of Justice or Justice as Fairness alone) and I can't imagine teaching Rawls to undergraduates again without using it. I fyou read Rawls in college, and feel like revisiting him, use Freeman's book alongside it. Highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars This is the One
The best introductory work on Rawls and his ideas. The fact that
Freeman knew Rawls and worked closely with him must have helped
in his close reading, explication and critique of his ideas.
Wonderfully and clearly written and most sympathetic to the ideas
of a great thinker. Freeman does a brilliant job in examining all
Rawls's key ideas and works, and places it in the context of
political philosophy as has impacted the 20th century.

5-0 out of 5 stars invaluable overview of rawls's work
Samuel Freeman was editor of Rawls's Collected papers and is thoroughly familiar with his work. What makes this book great and important is that it is extremely well written book on seminal thinker that explains all the important facets of his philosophy. An excellent explanation of Rawls's complex theories of justice and political liberalism that concludes with chapter on The Law of peoples. Rawls's complex ideas are presented with great clarity and grace and although there are 550 pages the text does not get bogged down in unimportant details. This book will be the central reference for serious study of Rawls. ... Read more

9. Rawls's 'A Theory of Justice': A Reader's Guide (Reader's Guides)
by Frank Lovett
Paperback: 176 Pages (2011-01-06)
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A concise introduction to the context, themes, and influence of one of the most important works of 20th century political philosophy. John Rawls' "A Theory of Justice", first published in 1971, is arguably the most important work of moral and political philosophy of the twentieth century. A staple on undergraduate courses in political theory, it is a classic text in which Rawls makes an astonishing contribution to political and moral thought. Rawls' "A Theory of Justice: A Reader's Guide" offers a concise and accessible introduction to this hugely important and challenging work. Written specifically to meet the needs of students coming to Rawls for the first time, the book offers guidance on: philosophical and historical context; key themes; reading the text; reception and influence; and further reading. "Continuum Reader's Guides" are clear, concise and accessible introductions to key texts in literature and philosophy. Each book explores the themes, context, criticism, and influence of key works, providing a practical introduction to close reading, guiding students towards a thorough understanding of the text.They provide an essential, up-to-date resource, ideal for undergraduate students. ... Read more

10. John Rawls: His Life and Theory of Justice
by Thomas Pogge
Paperback: 240 Pages (2007-01-27)
list price: US$25.00 -- used & new: US$18.00
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Asin: 0195136373
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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John Rawls was one of the most important political philosophers of our time, and promises to be an enduring figure over the coming decades. His Theory of Justice (1971) has had a profound impact across philosophy, politics, law, and economics. Nonetheless Rawlsian theory is not easy to understand, particularly for beginners, and his writing can be dense and forbidding. Thomas Pogge's short introduction (originally published in German) gives a thorough and concise presentation of the main outlines of Rawls's theory, introduces biographical information when necessary, and draws links between the Rawlsian enterprise and other important positions in moral and political philosophy. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Introduction
This book has been a great introduction to Rawls and his Theory of Justice.As a non-professional this book provided for me a great overview of the major important parts of the theory.It also provides a set of critiques brought on by others and by the author himself.Most objections to portions of the theory are addressed but Pogge has offered others that are still open to discussion.The book covers not just the Theory of Justice but the restatement and current topics relating to the theory.All-in-all a very good read. ... Read more

11. Rawls and Habermas: Reason, Pluralism, and the Claims of Political Philosophy
by Todd Hedrick
Paperback: 256 Pages (2010-06-01)
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This book offers a comprehensive evaluation of the two preeminent post-WWII political philosophers, John Rawls and Jürgen Habermas. Both men question how we can be free and autonomous under coercive law and how we might collectively use our reason to justify exercises of political power. In pluralistic modern democracies, citizens cannot be expected to agree about social norms on the basis of common allegiance to comprehensive metaphysical or religious doctrines concerning persons or society, and both philosophers thus engage fundamental questions about how a normatively binding framework for the public use of reason might be possible and justifiable. Hedrick explores the notion of reasonableness underwriting Rawls's political liberalism and the theory of communicative rationality that sustains Habermas's procedural conception of the democratic constitutional state.His book challenges the Rawlsianism prevalent in the Anglo-American world today while defending Habermas's often poorly understood theory as a superior alternative.
... Read more

12. On Rawls (Wadsworth Notes)
by Robert B. Talisse
Paperback: 96 Pages (2001-01-08)
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Asin: 0534583695
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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This brief text assists students in understanding Rawls' philosophy and thinking so they can more fully engage in useful, intelligent class dialogue and improve their understanding of course content. Part of the Wadsworth Notes Series, (which will eventually consist of approximately 100 titles, each focusing on a single "thinker" from ancient times to the present), ON RAWLS is written by a philosopher deeply versed in the philosophy of this key thinker. Like other books in the series, this concise book offers sufficient insight into the thinking of a notable philosopher, better enabling students to engage in reading and to discuss the material in class and on paper. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Talisse does what Rawls couldn't do
Having taken a course on the thought of John Rawls this semester, I was surprised by how often he repeated himself, restating his points over and over in formulations which varied only slightly. His work, Political Liberalism, in particular could have been significantly shorter if he had removed so much repetition. Understandably, it is a compilation of various lectures he delivered, but all the same, he could have edited them somewhat.

That being the case, Robert Talisse, provides a fantastic introduction and summary to the thought of Rawls. He effectively places Rawls thought in the context it emerged from, and makes some of Rawls' more abstract concepts, much clearer.

Rawls is worth reading if you want to understand many of the currents behind modern society, Talisse is worth reading to understand many of the currents behind and within Rawls.

5-0 out of 5 stars Best Little Book On Rawls
Talisse has written the best little introduction to Rawls I have read to date. While there is a sea of secondary writing on Rawls (much of it on my book shelves), for use in undergraduate courses in political philosophy or for use by the average reader who just wants to know where such notions and phrases as "veil of ignorance" and "difference principle" come from and what they are all about, none beats Talisse's concise exposition. ... Read more

13. Collected Papers
by John Rawls
Paperback: 672 Pages (2001-03-02)
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Asin: 0674005694
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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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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Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars great book
The best of Rawls in a fine edition.Great book to read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Engaging look at Rawls' lifework
Rawls' doctoral dissertation, completed at Harvard in 1951, sketched a procedure for adjudicating certain political and moral conflicts. Twenty years later he parlayed this procedure into his famous elaboration ofsocial contract theory, his conception of "justice as fairness."This idea marks the heart of Rawls' _A Theory of Justice_, the mostimportant and influential work of political philosophy of the twentiethcentury. His central thesis, that a conception of justice as fairness wouldbe accepted by all members of liberal constitutional democracies, motivatedRawls' justly-celebrated philosophical defense of democratic liberalism. In_Political Liberalism_ (1993), Rawls deepened his philosophical analysis byarticulating an even broader principle, that of "public reason,"which he believes is the shared basis for justifying (among other things)liberty of conscience, freedom of thought, and toleration of differencewithin liberal societies. Most recently, in _The Law of Peoples_ (1999),Rawls has stretched the social contract yet further by defending an evenmore general philosophical principle, that of the "just law ofpeoples." Just as the liberal principles of justice of fairness andpublic reason allowed him to develop complex theories about politicalrelations within liberal democracies, Rawls believes that, because it wouldbe acceptable to both constitutional liberals and members of certainilliberal societies, this new principle forms the basis of a socialcontract more inclusive than those of his earlier treatises. Rawls' visionof a realizable near-utopia emerges through his beautiful theoreticalelaborations of a social contract theory that takes his principles--as wellas the existence of a world burdened with outlaw states, crushing poverty,and problematical absolutism--utterly seriously.

Rawls' _CollectedPapers_ brings together nearly all of his major and minor shorterpublications on these and related issues. Many essays explore in greaterdepth issues raised by critics of _A Theory of Justice_ and _PoliticalLiberalism_, and all of them together paint a fascinating portrait ofRawls' philosophical development between 1951 and the present. ... Read more

14. John Rawls (Philosophy Now)
by Catherine Audard
Paperback: 328 Pages (2007-04-30)
list price: US$27.95 -- used & new: US$17.02
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Asin: 0773532374
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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This introduction to the work of John Rawls (1921-2002), one of the most influential political philosophers of the twentieth century, provides an authoritative exposition of his central ideas and their contribution to contemporary political thought. The book contextualizes Rawls' thought by giving a sense of its historical development, which helps understand the intellectual cohesion of his theory. Audard also explains the constant move between ethics and politics that is characteristic of Rawls' work, which both makes for the richness of his philosophy, but also creates for it a number of major problems. The book begins with the question whether Rawls' doctrine constitutes a theory of democracy despite its apparently more limited scope. The complex relation between Rawls's views and utilitarianism are then explored. The following chapters examine Rawls' claim to reconcile liberty and equality. This involves a detailed analysis of his two principles of justice and his most famous concept, the Original Position Device. The challenge to Rawls's theory of justice posed by communitarian critiques is then discussed.The final chapters examine the less universalist ambitions of Rawls' Political Liberalism and contrasts his theory of contemporary democracy with the ideas of Habermas and Charles Taylor. ... Read more

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4-0 out of 5 stars good intro to Rawls
For anyone looking for an accessible and solid introduction to
Rawls's work, this a good place to start. Audard explains clearly
some of Rawls's keys ideas, and some of her criticisms of those
ideas and possible responses to them are useful.
However, there are parts when Audard's setting up of criticisms
and leaving them dangling without seeing how Rawls's ideas could
counter them do seem contrived. Often the method here is to claim
that Ralws overlooked a point and that he did not formulate a response
clearly enough. Perhaps there may be some truth in these claims, but
a close reading of Rawls's texts may show that in many cases he did respond.
The point here is that Audard is not sympathetic enough to Rawls ideas
to be able to see the depth and subtlety in many of his notions and his
defence of them. Perhaps Samuel Freeman's new book on Rawls may fill that
gap. ... Read more

15. The Law of Peoples: with "The Idea of Public Reason Revisited"
by John Rawls
Paperback: 208 Pages (2001-03-02)
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Asin: 0674005422
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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This book consists of two parts: the essay "The Idea of Public Reason Revisited," first published in 1997, and "The Law of Peoples," a major reworking of a much shorter article by the same name published in 1993. Taken together, they are the culmination of more than fifty years of reflection on liberalism and on some of the most pressing problems of our times by John Rawls.

"The Idea of Public Reason Revisited" explains why the constraints of public reason, a concept first discussed in Political Liberalism (1993), are ones that holders of both religious and non-religious comprehensive views can reasonably endorse. It is Rawls's most detailed account of how a modern constitutional democracy, based on a liberal political conception, could and would be viewed as legitimate by reasonable citizens who on religious, philosophical, or moral grounds do not themselves accept a liberal comprehensive doctrine--such as that of Kant, or Mill, or Rawls's own "Justice as Fairness," presented in A Theory of Justice (1971).

The Law of Peoples extends the idea of a social contract to the Society of Peoples and lays out the general principles that can and should be accepted by both liberal and non-liberal societies as the standard for regulating their behavior toward one another. In particular, it draws a crucial distinction between basic human rights and the rights of each citizen of a liberal constitutional democracy. It explores the terms under which such a society may appropriately wage war against an "outlaw society," and discusses the moral grounds for rendering assistance to non-liberal societies burdened by unfavorable political and economic conditions.

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Customer Reviews (9)

4-0 out of 5 stars college book
This book is for college purposes only. Very hard to read but was required for areading material. Plus was way cheaper to buy from Amazon than the school book store. =)

4-0 out of 5 stars Another Interesting Rawls Work
This concise book consists of 2 essays, The Idea of Public Reason Revisited and The Law of Peoples.While The Idea... essay is second in the book, I would read it first because it is a good review of a crucial concept in Rawls' thought and very useful for grasping the argument in The Law of Peoples.The Idea... explicates Rawls emphasis on mutual justification and the somewhat separate nature of political conduct in formulating the basis of polities.

Some of Rawls' last work, The Law of Peoples is an attempt to extend Rawls contractarian approach to international relations.Rawls uses the same approach here used in prior work proposing a reasonable basis for political organization of individual polities.In international relations, Rawls proposes a contract between Peoples (or their representatives) who meet on equal terms behind an analogue of his famous "veil of ignorance" to guarantee a free and equal status.This leads to rational (promotion of self interest) and reasonable (mutually and publicly justifiable) formulation of standards for international conduct.These include many standard tenets of international law such as war only for self-defense.Rawls includes both liberal societies (essentially all forms of functioning modern democracies) and what he terms decent peoples.The latter will not meet all the criteria for a liberal state but will respect human rights and have some measures for broad political participation.Something like the type of state envisioned by 18th century theorists like Montesquieu or a state with an state religion and tolerance of other faiths would be decent societies.Rawls basic point is that the values upheld by liberal or decent societies extend logically via the mechanisms he proposes to a reasonable ideal formulation of international relations.Rawls does propose this as an assembly of Peoples, rather than states.This distinction is not perfectly clear but may be that state for Rawls implied too much about the powers of the entity and may not satisfy the veil of ignorance criteria.

After formulating and justifying his ideal theory, Rawls discuses some non-ideal issues, such as conduct of war and the obligations favored states have towards less fortunate states.

Like much of Rawls work, this work is rigorously formulated and written very carefully.Rawls is never a sparking stylist but this work is perhaps more easily read than some of this work.Rawls feels this work is realistically utopian, the purpose of which is to define some of the bounds of what might be possible in international relations by systematic exercise of reason and good faith.In this case, this is actually realistic.Rawls is on firm ground in the sense that some of the foundations for developing his system, like the existence of democractic pluralistic societies and absence of war between democracies, are real phenomena.

5-0 out of 5 stars Hope for our future.
My 'phenom' daughter recommended this book to me. She read it as a poli-sci/pre-med undergrad at UC Berkeley, and having noticed my growing cynicism regarding the direction our country has been headed, this was her 'philosophical lifesaver'. What Prof. Rawls offers is nothing less than a roadmap of hope, not only for our country but for the world.And that's a mouthful of praise, coming from a cynical Vietnam-vet.

5-0 out of 5 stars Disparate peoples coming together
This is a must-read book. This treatise analyses how peoples of diverse cultures and religions can find a path towards living cooperatively together in peace. If the peoples of the world want to find a "government" that can lead them all and be respected, this book will be of enormous assistance in understanding the way it may be done.
The discussion views a variety of disparate forms of societies and describes their pros and cons to underscore his arguments, and as a result Laws could easily be quoted out of context. This however is the strength of his discourse, as he takes the reader along in his line of thought, while at the same time answering his anticipated critics.

3-0 out of 5 stars Major flaw of this book are misconceptions...
Law of peoples has a major flaw: misconceptions, and this are:

1 - Bismarck isn't a statesman????? But Lincoln and Washington are!?!??!?!?! I believe j. rawls hadn't a great european knowledge at time he wrote about this part, even if he has, he's idea of "Just", "fair" seems ambiguos, since where is the difference between Lincoln, Washington and Bismarck? All three fought war to unify (or maintain the unity) of they people.

2 - About his exceptions, it is a shock to read that a country can suspend the status of citizien (civil) and transform all people of the enemy as military target, justifiyng that in "the need of win the war, and stop the evil". God, in other words: if i mean that country X is evil, and to prevent his victory i can use all means necessary so i can use nuclear weapons against it?

3 - His position in judging things in "evil/good" are.... how to say: a Error, if not a bu.......But this is personal opinion about the book.

4 - This is the greatest flaw: all idea about law of peoples move over the idea of american way of life, in other words, it isn't a law of peoples, but a AMERICAN law of peoples, even if he speak from toleration.

At last, i believe i found the doctrinal base of George W. Bush foreign policy: america is a paladin wielding the sword of justice to bring democracy (american democracy) to the world, and this is the law of people. This is the ideological flaw of this work.

Not to say that there aren't good point of view (that's why 3 stars) i would only sugest this book to people that, at minimum, readed: Epoch of International Law (GREWE) and Diplomacy (KISSINGER). If u don't have international history, law, relations knowledge, read this two books before entering in m. rawls ideas, or u may be converted in this ideologically flawed book. ... Read more

16. Reclaiming the History of Ethics: Essays for John Rawls
Paperback: 428 Pages (2008-05-29)
list price: US$50.00 -- used & new: US$46.27
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Asin: 0521063507
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The essays in this volume offer an approach to the history of moral and political philosophy that takes its inspiration from John Rawls. The distinctive feature of this approach is to address substantive normative questions in moral and political philosophy through an analysis of the texts and theories of major figures in the history of the subject: Aristotle, Hobbes, Hume, Rousseau, Kant, and Marx.By reconstructing the core of these theories in a way that is informed by contemporary theoretical concerns, the contributors show how the history of the subject is a resource for understanding present and perennial problems in moral and political philosophy. ... Read more

17. John Rawls: An Introduction
by Percy B. Lehning
Paperback: 306 Pages (2009-07-20)
list price: US$29.99 -- used & new: US$17.71
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Asin: 0521727693
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What is a just political order? What does justice require of us? These are perennial questions of political philosophy. John Rawls, generally acknowledged to be one of the most influential political philosophers of the twentieth century, answered them in a way that has drawn widespread attention, not only from political philosophers, but from political scientists, economists, those in the field of public policy, and experts in jurisprudence. It is not only academics who have been inspired by Rawls' ideas; they have also influenced the theory of government and continue to play a role in actual public political debates. This introduction outlines Rawls' work on the theory of justice. Focusing on Rawls' own writings, from his first publication in 1951 to his final ones some fifty years later, Percy B. Lehning demonstrates how and why they can be considered as one consistent and coherent body of work. ... Read more

18. Lectures on the History of Moral Philosophy
by John Rawls, Barbara Herman
Paperback: 414 Pages (2000-11-15)
list price: US$27.00 -- used & new: US$18.90
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Asin: 0674004426
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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The premier political philosopher of his day, John Rawls,in three decades of teaching at Harvard, has had a profound influenceon the way philosophical ethics is approached and understoodtoday. This book brings together the lectures that inspired ageneration of students--and a regeneration of moral philosophy. Itinvites readers to learn from the most noted exemplars of modern moralphilosophy with the inspired guidance of one of contemporaryphilosophy’s most noteworthy practitioners and teachers.

Central to Rawls’s approach is the idea that respectful attentionto the great texts of our tradition can lead to a fruitful exchange ofideas across the centuries. In this spirit, his book engages thinkerssuch as Leibniz, Hume, Kant, and Hegel as they struggle in brilliantand instructive ways to define the role of a moral conception in humanlife. The lectures delineate four basic types of moral reasoning:perfectionism, utilitarianism, intuitionism, and--the ultimate focusof Rawls’s course--Kantian constructivism. Comprising a superbcourse on the history of moral philosophy, they also afford uniqueinsight into how John Rawls has transformed our view of this history. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Good book
The book is excellent if one wants to learn more about moral philosophy and its history.It arrived in good time and in excellent condition.

5-0 out of 5 stars a fascinating collection of lectures
One can see why John Rawls rejuvenated interest in moral philosophy -- this book is not only a beautifully written, but also a well organized collection of lectures on moral philosophy. Yes, all the big names are here -- Kant, Hegel, Leibnitz & Hume -- entire sections devoted to each. Utilitarianism, constructivism, intuitionism and perfectionism are all studied carefully as the various moral philosophies produced by these thinkers.

A warning, though: don't leap into this book as a "Moral Philosophy for Dummies" kind of guide. Although you don't have to be a guru, you need to have already read a bit on the subject in order to savour the delights of this book. I myself am taking my first (very wobbly) steps into a field which attempts, as the cover of the book says, to "define the role of a moral conception in human life." ... Read more

19. Legacy of John Rawls (Continuum Studies in American Philosophy)
by Thom Brooks, Fabian Freyenhagen
Paperback: 240 Pages (2007-12-15)
list price: US$49.95 -- used & new: US$40.96
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Asin: 0826499872
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John Rawls was unquestionably the most important moral and political philosopher of the last one hundred years. His "A Theory of Justice" published in 1971 is already a classic text, and his political philosophy is more widely studied than that of any other theorist. Interest in Rawls' work has increased still further since his recent death and the publication of his complete works, but until now, there has been no single volume that explores the legacy of his work. This book fills the void, making a substantial contribution not only to work on Rawls' thought but to contemporary debates in ethics and justice as well. The book will be of great interest to academics and students in philosophy, politics, and law departments alike. ... Read more

20. Habermas and Rawls: Disputing the Political (Routledge Studies in Contemporary Philosophy)
 Hardcover: 256 Pages (2010-11-15)
list price: US$105.00 -- used & new: US$84.00
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Asin: 0415876869
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Habermas and Rawls are two heavyweights of social and political philosophy, and they are undoubtedly the two most written about (and widely read) authors in this field. However, there has not been much informed and interesting work on the points of intersection between their projects, partly because their work comes from different traditions—roughly the European tradition of social and political theory and the Anglo-American analytic tradition of political philosophy. In this volume, contributors re-examine the Habermas-Rawls dispute with an eye toward the ways in which the dispute can cast light on current controversies about political philosophy more broadly. Moreover, the volume will cover a number of other salient issues on which Habermas and Rawls have interesting and divergent views, such as the political role of religion and international justice.

... Read more

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