Justice as Fairness: A Restatement

Justice as Fairness: A Restatement

John Rawls
Format: Paperback
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  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press; 2nd edition (May 16, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 0674005112
  • EAN: 9780674005112
  • Item Dimensions: 0.5 x 6.0 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.6 pounds


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.

Few philosophers have made as much of a 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
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