John Rawls’ Theory of Justice as Fairness
Approximately as appears in Guttorm Floistad, ed. Philosophy of Justice, Contemporary Philosophy, Springer 2014, 311-328
19 Pages Posted: 21 Oct 2014
Date Written: October 16, 2014
When do citizens have a moral duty to obey the government and support the institutions of society? This question is central to political philosophy. One of the 20 century’s main response was John Rawls’ theory of justice, “Justice as fairness”, in the book A Theory of Justice, published 1971. The book Justice as Fairness was an improved and shorter presentation of Rawls’ theory, published 2001 with editorial support by Erin Kelly, one of his former students.
This introduction of Rawls falls into eight parts. After a brief biographical introduction, Part 2 presents the allocation principles he advocated. Part 3 presents Rawls’ conception of society and the individual, as an introduction to the rest of the argument presented in part 4 Section 5 takes up his theory of justification, and part 6 points to three areas where the more recent book Justice as Fairness differs somewhat from A Theory of Justice. Section 7 presents some of the criticisms that have been raised, and section 8 points to some lasting contributions of Rawls’ theory.
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