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John Rawls: His Life and Theory of Justice [Paperback]

Thomas Pogge , Michelle Kosch
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 27, 2007 0195136373 978-0195136371
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.

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John Rawls: His Life and Theory of Justice + Political Liberalism: Expanded Edition (Columbia Classics in Philosophy) + Justice as Fairness: A Restatement
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Editorial Reviews


"There is a big need for a brief but well-informed study of Rawls for students and other beginners, complete with a bit of biographical information. Pogge's book is ideal. It is popular without being inaccurate. Pogge is as knowledgeable about Rawls's work as anyone could be, and he is a clear writer and a rigorous thinker."--Thomas Nagel, New York University

"Pogge possesses a keen sense of the strengths and weaknesses of Rawls's philosophical project. Pogge enables readers to appreciate the personal context that informs Rawls's work. Essential."--E.J. Harpham, Choice

"The book is indeed a pleasure to read; serious, clear, substantial, and sensible: it is for me the exemplar of what a book in philosophy ought to be today."--Rudiger Bittner, University of Bielefeld (on the German edition)

"Overall, this might well rank as the most extensive and philosophically probing exposition of Rawls's political philosophy yet produced."--Arthur Kuflik, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

About the Author

Thomas Pogge is Professor of Political Science at Columbia University and Professorial Research Fellow at the A.N.U. Centre for Philosophy and Public Ethics. He has published widely on Rawls, Kant, political and moral philosophy, and on issues in global justice.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (January 27, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195136373
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195136371
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #732,346 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Introduction February 13, 2008
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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Well Written and Useful Overview of Rawls February 28, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book on John Rawls by Thomas Pogge is valuable contribution to the ever increasing body of professional literature regarding this late Harvard Professor and proclaimer of what Justice is. The book is overall a superbly written and presented addition to what is available. It is an excellent interpretation of Rawls’ works and has parts of the discussion which present some semblance of balance with other thinkers; here I argue the discussions on Nozick and Sandel, both also of Harvard, are very worthy additions in the discussion. Rawls writings opened up a new dialog for political scientists in the late 20th century by espousing a humanist and communitarian approach to Justice, where Justice meant the sharing of a society’s wealth, and inherently assuming that what any individual achieved was done so in the context of the contributions of all those around them.

Let me first begin by providing a summary of the Rawlsian theory. The essence of Rawls’ approach to “Justice” is predicated on three elements;

Original Proposition: There exists a means and method for a society to establish a Contract amongst and between them. This Contract thus created in this society of the just is one that maximizes the return on every transaction to the least of the individuals in the society. This approach to contractarianism is one related to individuals in a non-bargaining environment establishing between and amongst them a “contract” to govern their society. There are two elements contained herein.

The first is the essence of a contract, and in fact a form of social contract between the members of society and amongst them as a whole. This is a restatement of the classic contractarian view of a society.
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