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John Rawls quotes (showing 1-29 of 29)

“Many of our most serious conflicts are conflicts within ourselves. Those who suppose their judgements are always consistent are unreflective or dogmatic.”
John Rawls, Justice as Fairness: A Restatement
“Justice is the first virtue of social institutions, as truth is of systems of thought. A theory however elegant and economical must be rejected or revised if it is untrue; likewise laws and institutions no matter how efficient and well-arranged must be reformed or abolished if they are unjust. Each person possesses an inviolability founded on justice that even the welfare of society as a whole cannot override. For this reason justice denies that the loss of freedom for some is made right by a greater good shared by others. It does not allow that the sacrifices imposed on a few are outweighed by the larger sum of advantages enjoyed by many. Therefore in a just society the liberties of equal citizenship are taken as settled; the rights secured by justice are not subject to political bargaining or to the calculus of social interests.”
John Rawls, A Theory of Justice
“Each person possesses and inviolability founded on justice that even the welfare of society as a whole cannot override. For this reason, justice denies that the loss of freedom for some is made right by a greater good shared by others. It does not allow that the sacrifices imposed on a few are outweighed by the larger sum of advantages enjoyed by many. Therefore in a just society the liberties of equal citizenship are taken as settled; the rights secured by justice are not subject to political bargaining or to the calculus of social interests. The only thing that permits us to acquiesce in an erroneous theory is the lack of a better one; analogously, an injustice is tolerable only when it is necessary to avoid an even greater injustice. Being first virtues of human activities, truth and justice are uncompromising.”
John Rawls
“The natural distribution is neither just nor unjust; nor is it unjust that persons are born into society at some particular position. These are simply natural facts. What is just and unjust is the way that institutions deal with these facts.”
John Rawls, A Theory of Justice
“The sense of justice is continuous with the love of mankind.”
John Rawls
“The principles of justice are chosen behind a veil of ignorance.”
John Rawls
“Thus I assume that to each according to his threat advantage is not a conception of justice.”
John Rawls, A Theory of Justice
“[E]ach person is to have an equal right to the most extensive basic liberty compatible with a similar liberty for others.”
John Rawls, A Theory of Justice
“The perspective of eternity is not a perspective from a certain place beyond the world, nor the point of view of a transcendent being; rather it is a certain form of thought and feeling that rational persons can adopt within the world. And having done so, they can, whatever their generation, bring together into one scheme all individual perspectives and arrive together at regulative principles that can be affirmed by everyone as he lives by them, each from his own standpoint. Purity of heart, if one could attain it, would be to see clearly and to act with grace and self-command from this point of view.”
John Rawls
“It is of first importance that the military be subordinate to civilian government”
John Rawls
“Justice is the first virtue of social institutions, as truth is of systems of thought. A theory however elegant and economical must be rejected or revised if it is untrue; likewise laws and institutions no matter how efficient and well-arranged must be reformed or abolished if they are unjust.”
John Rawls, A Theory of Justice
“Generally speaking, the errors in religion are dangerous; those in philosophy only ridiculous.”
John Rawls, Lectures on the History of Moral Philosophy
“We try to show that the well-ordered society of justice as fairness is indeed possible according to our nature and those requirements. This endeavor belongs to political philosophy as reconciliation; for seeing that the conditions of a social world at least allow for that possibility affects our view of the world itself and our attitude toward it. No longer need it seem hopelessly hostile, a world in which the will to dominate and oppressive cruelties, abetted by prejudice and folly, must inevitably prevail. None of these may ease our loss, situated as we may be in a corrupt society. But we may reflect that the world is not in itself inhospitable to political justice and its good. Our social world might have been different and there is hope for those at another time and place”
John Rawls, Justice as Fairness: A Restatement
“As free persons, citizens recognize one another as having the moral power to have a conception of the good. This means that they do not view themselves as inevitably tied to the pursuit of the particular conception of the good and its final ends which they espouse at any given time. ”
John Rawls
“We strive for the best we can attain within the scope the world allows.”
John Rawls, Political Liberalism: Expanded Edition
“Historically one of the main defects of constitutional government has been the failure to insure the fair value of political liberty. The necessary corrective steps have not been taken, indeed, they never seem to have been seriously entertained. Disparities in the distribution of property and wealth that far exceed what is compatible with political equality have generally been tolerated by the legal system. Public resources have not been devoted to maintaining the institutions required for the fair value of political liberty. Essentially the fault lies in the fact that the democratic political process is at best regulated rivalry; it does not even in theory have the desirable properties that price theory ascribes to truly competitive markets. Moreover, the effects of injustices in the political system are much more grave and long lasting than market imperfections. Political power rapidly accumulates and becomes unequal; and making use of the coercive apparatus of the state and its law, those who gain the advantage can often assure themselves of a favored position. Thus inequities in the economic and social system may soon undermine whatever political equality might have existed under fortunate historical conditions. Universal suffrage is an insufficient counterpoise; for when parties and elections are financed not by public funds but by private contributions, the political forum is so constrained by the wishes of the dominant interests that the basic measures needed to establish just constitutional rule are seldom properly presented. These questions, however, belong to political sociology. 116 I mention them here as a way of emphasizing that our discussion is part of the theory of justice and must not be mistaken for a theory of the political system. We are in the way of describing an ideal arrangement, comparison with which defines a standard for judging actual institutions, and indicates what must be maintained to justify departures from it.”
John Rawls, A Theory of Justice
“Justice is the first virtue of social institutions, as truth is of systems of thought.”
John Rawls, A Theory of Justice
“Luther and Calvin were as dogmatic and intolerant as the Church had been. For those who had to decide whether to become Protestant or to remain Catholic, it was a terrible time. For once the original religion fragments, which religion then leads to salvation?”
John Rawls, Lectures on the History of Moral Philosophy
“Hume's skepticism in morals does not arise from his being struck by
the diversity of the moral judgments of mankind. As I have indicated, he thinks that people more or less naturally agree in their moral judgments and count the same qualities of character as virtues and vices; it is rather the enthusiasms of religion and superstition that lead to differences, not to mention the corruptions of political power.”
John Rawls, Lectures on the History of Moral Philosophy
“Normally leaving one's country is a grave step: it involves leaving the society and culture in which we have been raised,, the society and culture whose language we use in speech and thought to express and understand ourselves, our aims, goals and values; the society and culture, customs, and conventions we depend on to find our place in the social world. In large part, we affirm our society and culture, and have an intimate and inexpressible knowledge of it, even though much of it we may question, if not reject. The government’s authority cannot, then be freely accepted in the sense that the bonds of society and culture, of history and social place of origin, begin so early to shape our life and are normally so strong that the right of emigration does not suffice to make accepting its authority free, politically speaking, in the way that liberty of conscience suffices to make accepting ecclesiastical authority free.”
John Rawls, Political Liberalism
“The other limitation on our discussion is that for the most part I examine the principles of justice that would regulate a well-ordered society. Everyone is presumed to act justly and to do his part in upholding just institutions.”
John Rawls, A Theory of Justice
“The refusal to take part in all war under any conditions is an unworldly view bound to remain a sectarian doctrine. It no more challenges the state's authority than the celibacy of priests challenges the sanctity of marriage.”
John Rawls, A Theory of Justice
“First: each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive liberty compatible with similar liberty for others.
Second: social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that they are both (a) reasonably expected to be to everyone's advantage, and (b) attached to positions and offices open to all.”
John Rawls
“Perhaps the most obvious political inequality is the violation of the precept one person one vote. Yet until recent times most writers rejected equal universal suffrage. Indeed, persons were not regarded as the proper subjects of representation at all. Often it was interests that were to be represented, with Whig and Tory differing as to whether the interest of the rising middle class should be given a place alongside the landed and ecclesiastical interests. For others it is regions that are to be represented, or forms of culture, as when one speaks of the representation of the agricultural and urban elements of society. At the first sight, these kinds of representation appear unjust. How far they depart from the precept one person one vote is a measure of their abstract injustice, and indicates the strength of the countervailing reasons that must be forthcoming.119”
John Rawls, A Theory of Justice
“a fim de tratar as pessoas igualitariamente, a sociedade deve dar atenção àqueles com menos dotes inatos e aos oriundos de posições sociais menos favoráveis. A ideia é de reparar o desvio das contingências na direção da igualdade”
John Rawls
“A gloomy, harebrained enthusiast, after his death may have a place in the calendar; but will scarcely ever be admitted, when alive, into intimacy and society, except by those who are as delirious and dismal as himself" (E:II:27o).”
John Rawls, Lectures on the History of Moral Philosophy
“There is no reason to suppose ahead of time that the principles satisfactory for the basic structure hold for all cases.”
John Rawls, A Theory of Justice
“closed system”
John Rawls, A Theory of Justice
“The significance of this special case is obvious and needs no explanation. It is natural to conjecture that once we have a sound theory for this case, the remaining problems of justice will prove more tractable in the light of it.”
John Rawls, A Theory of Justice


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