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The Idea of Justice

16 Pages Posted: 11 Jun 2012  

John Gardner

University of Oxford - Faculty of Law

Date Written: June 11, 2012


This is a critical notice of Amartya Sen's 2009 book The Idea of Justice. As well as conveying the flavor of the book, I try to untangle two different interpretations of Sen's central contrast between 'transcendental institutionalists' and 'realization-focused comparativists'. I also raise some doubts about Sen's conceptualization of his project: is the book really about justice at all?

Keywords: Amartya Sen, John Rawls, justice, value-pluralism, idealism, perfectionism

Suggested Citation

Gardner, John, The Idea of Justice (June 11, 2012). Oxford Legal Studies Research Paper No. 26/2012. Available at SSRN: or

John Gardner (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Faculty of Law ( email )

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Oxford, OX1 3UJ
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