John Rawls: American Political Philosopher

Sam Mcmichael

220px-03-rawls-225John Rawls (b. 1921, d. 2002) was an American political philosopher in the liberal tradition. His theory of justice as fairness envisions a society of free citizens holding equal basic rights cooperating within an egalitarian economic system. His account of political liberalism addresses the legitimate use of political power in a democracy, aiming to show how enduring unity may be achieved despite the diversity of worldviews that free institutions allow. His writings on the law of peoples extend these theories to liberal foreign policy, with the goal of imagining how a peaceful and tolerant international order might be possible.

Rawls sees political philosophy as fulfilling at least four roles in a society’s public life. The first role is practical: political philosophy can discover bases for reasoned agreement in a society where sharp divisions threaten to lead to conflict. Rawls cites Hobbes‘s Leviathan as an attempt to solve the problem of order during the English civil war, and the Federalist Papers as emerging from the debate over the US Constitution.

John Rawls in “Justice as fairness“: “The fundamental idea in this conception of justice is the idea of society as a fair system of social cooperation over time from one generation to the next.”

Don’t see how anyone can object to that.


One thought on “John Rawls: American Political Philosopher

  1. More people should read Rawls. His, a theory of justice, should be required reading in any political philosophy class.

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