A Theory of Justice Quotes

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A Theory of Justice A Theory of Justice by John Rawls
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“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
“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
“[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
“Thus I assume that to each according to his threat advantage is not a conception of justice.”
John Rawls, A Theory of Justice
“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
“Justice is the first virtue of social institutions, as truth is of systems of thought.”
John Rawls, A Theory of Justice
“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
“Among the essential features of this situation is that no one knows his place in society, his class position or social status, nor does any one know his fortune in the distribution of natural assets and abilities, his intelligence, strength, and the like. I shall even assume that the parties do not know their conceptions of the good or their special psychological propensities. The principles of justice are chosen behind a veil of ignorance.”
John Rawls, A Theory of Justice
“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
“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
“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
“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
“El resultado es que con frecuencia parecemos obligados a escoger entre el utilitarismo y el intuicionismo.”
John Rawls, Teoría de la justicia
“Mis ambiciones respecto al libro quedarán completamente realizadas si permite ver más claramente los principales rasgos estructurales de la otra concepción de la justicia que está implícita en la tradición contractual, señalando el camino de su ulterior elaboración. Creo que, de las ideas tradicionales, es esta concepción la que más se aproxima a nuestros juicios meditados acerca de la justicia y la que constituye la base moral más apropiada para una sociedad democrática.”
John Rawls, Teoría de la justicia