As far back in ancient Greek literature as Homer, the concept of dikaion, used to describe a just person, was important.
Two of his brothers died in childhood because they had contracted fatal illnesses from him. Inthe seven-year-old Rawls contracted diphtheria. His brother Bobby, younger by 20 months, visited him in his room and was fatally infected.
The next winter, Rawls contracted pneumonia. Another younger brother, Tommy, caught the illness from him and died. He instead remained committed mainly to his academic and family life. He was nevertheless able to complete a book titled The Law of Peoplesthe most complete statement of his views on international justice, and shortly before his death in November published Justice As Fairness: A Restatement, a response to criticisms of A Theory of Justice.
He was survived by his wife, their four children, and four grandchildren. The first, A Theory of Justice, focused on distributive justice and attempted to reconcile the competing claims of the values of freedom and equality.
The second, Political Liberalism, addressed the question of how citizens divided by intractable religious and philosophical disagreements could come to endorse a constitutional democratic regime. The third, The Law of Peoples, focused on the issue of global justice.
A Theory of Justice[ edit ] Rawls's magnum opus titled A Theory of Justice, published inaimed to resolve the seemingly competing claims of freedom and equality.
The shape Rawls's resolution took, however, was not that of a balancing act that compromised or weakened the moral claim of one value compared with the other. Rather, his intent was to show that notions of freedom and equality could be integrated into a seamless unity he called justice as fairness.
By attempting to enhance the perspective which his readers should take when thinking about justice, Rawls hoped to show the supposed conflict between freedom and equality to be illusory. Rawls's A Theory of Justice includes a thought experiment he called the " original position ".
The intuition motivating its employment is this: When we think about what it would mean for a just state of affairs to obtain between persons, we eliminate certain features such as hair or eye color, height, race, etc.
Rawls's original position is meant to encode all of our intuitions about which features are relevant, and which irrelevant, for the purposes of deliberating well about justice.
The original position is Rawls' hypothetical scenario in which a group of persons is set the task of reaching an agreement about the kind of political and economic structure they want for a society, which they will then occupy.
Each individual, however, deliberates behind a " veil of ignorance ": The only thing that a given member knows about themselves is that they are in possession of the basic capacities necessary to fully and willfully participate in an enduring system of mutual cooperation; each knows they can be a member of the society.
Rawls posits two basic capacities that the individuals would know themselves to possess. First, individuals know that they have the capacity to form, pursue, and revise a conception of the good, or life plan.
Exactly what sort of conception of the good this is, however, the individual does not yet know. It may be, for example, religious or secular, but at the start, the individual in the original position does not know which.
Second, each individual understands him or herself to have the capacity to develop a sense of justice and a generally effective desire to abide by it.
Knowing only these two features of themselves, the group will deliberate in order to design a social structure, during which each person will seek his or her maximal advantage. The idea is that proposals that we would ordinarily think of as unjust — such as that blacks or women should not be allowed to hold public office — will not be proposed, in this, Rawls' original position, because it would be irrational to propose them.
The reason is simple: This position is expressed in the difference principleaccording to which, in a system of ignorance about one's status, one would strive to improve the position of the worst off, because he might find himself in that position.Rawls’s argument for congruence—that having an effective sense of justice built around the principles of Justice as Fairness will be a good for each individual—is a complex and philosophically deep one.
This article is concerned with social and political equality.
In its prescriptive usage, ‘equality’ is a loaded and ‘highly contested’ concept. Rawls’s Principles of Justice Rawls thinks a just society will conform to rules that everyone would agree to in the original position. Since they are deliberating behind the veil of ignorance, people don’t know their personal circumstances, or even their view of .
A Theory of Justice is widely recognized as an essential contribution to thought about the nature of justice. However, even supporters of Rawls acknowledge that . John Rawls (—) John Rawls was arguably the most important political philosopher of the twentieth century. He wrote a series of highly influential articles in the s and ’60s that helped refocus Anglo-American moral and political philosophy on substantive problems about what we ought to do.
A Theory of Justice is a work of political philosophy and ethics by John Rawls, in which the author attempts to solve the problem of distributive justice (the socially just distribution of goods in a society) by utilising a variant of the familiar device of the social contract.