A Theory of Justice
Rawls aims to express an essential part of the common core of the democratic tradition - justice as fairness - and to provide an alternative to utilitarianism, wh ...more
A Theory of Justice takes up a problem that goes back to the Enlightenment: If rights inure to ind ...more
This having been said, the book is useful and interesting. It p ...more
So, why read Rawls? It's often asserted that Rawls's work is the philo ...more
Rawls is trying to build on Kant's theory of ethics. Kant's thing was classic Enlightenment: trying to divorce morality from Christianity. Rawls' development is the veil of ignorance - essentially a social contract based on the Golden Rule.
The question is, what's your foundation for doing unto others as you would have them do unto you? Rawls doesn't argue from Christianity, of course, nor natural law, but se ...more
So this thought experiment is a hypothetical situation that is really just a very dull gambling scheme where the players must make decisions about the structure of society. The thing that's supposed to be so revolutionary is that these players aren't aware of their position in society and they don't really know anything about their own identity, except t ...more
Rawls' book is important for, among other reasons, being a example of applied ethics relevant to everyone, everywhere, in situations ranging from family politics to constitutional conventions. His approach is substantially Kantian and ...more
"Imagine someone whose only pleasure is to count blades of grass in various geometrically shaped areas such as park squares and well-trimmed lawns. He is otherwise intelligent and actually possesses unusual skills, since he manages to survive by solving difficult mathematical problems for a fee. The definition of the good forces us to admit that the good for this man is indeed counting blades of grass, or more accurately, his good is determined by a p ...more
1. The Veil of Ignorance is a great thought experiment, one of the all time greats. Rawls establishes the Kantian idea of autonomous action perfectly. Too bad he quickly abandons Kant and instead creates something more sim ...more
The work can be a bit dense from time to time - perhaps this is because I’m too young or foolish to unde ...more
Oddly, this is considered a classic, even though Rawls doesn't really answer any of his own questions, but uses a handy thought experiment to avoid doing so. That said, I feel like he establishes a better basis for government than any of the European competition. That's amazing, but this book is still ponderous and boring as shit.
If pressed for the most simplistic one-sentence answer to how I viewed my understanding of this work I would not hesitate to exclaim, “The most conclusive qualitative argument for ‘justice as fairness’”. Notwithstanding, this simplistic exclamation needs to be supported in a way that encourages others, who are inclined, to relish the challenge of critical discourse on the imperative questions of political philosophy raised by John Rawls.
As part of...more
"The most natural way, then, of arriving a utilitarianism (although not, of course, the only way of doing so) is to adopt for society as a whole the principle of rational choice for one man. Once this is recognized, the place of the impartial spectator and the emphasis on sympathy in the history of utilitarian thought is readily understood. For it is by the conception of the impartial spectator and the use of sympathetic identification in guiding our imagination that the princi ...more