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Collected Papers [Hardcover]

John Rawls , Samuel Freeman
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 29, 1999 0674137396 978-0674137394
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.

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

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 Political Liberalism, he examined issues arising from it. This collection includes nearly all of his published essays, beginning with the first (1951) and running to as recently as 1997 and an interview in 1998. It reveals his beginnings in utilitarianism and the dissatisfactions that led to his contractarianism and to his examination of such matters as public consensus in a pluralistic society, public reason, the compatibility of religious and comprehensive secular doctrine in a liberal society, commonality in human laws, Kant's moral philosophy, and more. These essays both clarify Rawls's thought and make significant contributions to their subject.ARobert Hoffman, York Coll., CUNY
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

A nearly complete collection of Rawls's short essays from 1951 through 1998. What is arguably the most widely discussed political theory of the second half of the 20th-century emerged from an evolutionary process. By making available in one volume the papers through which Harvard philosopher Rawls initially tried out his ideas, Freeman provides easy access to the steps taken along the way. This book will be primarily useful as a reference work; few if any intrepid souls will attempt to read it cover-to-cover. Doing so, however, exposes the true nature of Rawls's achievement. As others have observed regarding A Theory of Justice, Rawls begins with an original, brilliant idea encapsulated in the principles of ``justice as fairness,'' then builds complexity around it by adding arguments that respond to objections, both anticipated and actually raised by critics. Unlike most scholars who focus on one topic throughout their careers, however, Rawls is not just repackaging the same material. He takes objections seriously and struggles to overcome them, pushing forward his thinking by developing new arguments that add depth to his original ideas rather than simply moving on to new subjects. The result has been the most sustained effort in all of Western philosophy to construct a complete theory of justice. Along the way his originality has been manifested in creations that have become part of the standard lexicon of political philosophy, including the difference principle, the maximin criterion, and most notably the veil of ignorance. What the reader will find in this volume are the starts and stops, the grappling with issues of moral philosophy, and especially later in his career, the confrontation with concerns such as religious belief that threaten the assumptions of rationality and the positive value of reasonableness upon which his vision of justice depends. A convenient and welcome compilation. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (June 29, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674137396
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674137394
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.6 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,232,644 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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

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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging look at Rawls' lifework May 4, 2000
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 of social contract theory, his conception of "justice as fairness." This idea marks the heart of Rawls' _A Theory of Justice_, the most important and influential work of political philosophy of the twentieth century. His central thesis, that a conception of justice as fairness would be accepted by all members of liberal constitutional democracies, motivated Rawls' justly-celebrated philosophical defense of democratic liberalism. In _Political Liberalism_ (1993), Rawls deepened his philosophical analysis by articulating 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 difference within liberal societies. Most recently, in _The Law of Peoples_ (1999), Rawls has stretched the social contract yet further by defending an even more general philosophical principle, that of the "just law of peoples." Just as the liberal principles of justice of fairness and public reason allowed him to develop complex theories about political relations within liberal democracies, Rawls believes that, because it would be acceptable to both constitutional liberals and members of certain illiberal societies, this new principle forms the basis of a social contract more inclusive than those of his earlier treatises. Read more ›
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great book February 13, 2007
The best of Rawls in a fine edition. Great book to read.
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