A Theory of Justice – abstract

Through Raymond Wacks. (2017). Justice: a beginner’s guide. London. Oneworld. Chapter 5.

John Rawls in his own words [A Theory of Justice. (2002). Oxford University Press. p. 12.]

My aim is to present a conception of justice which generalises and carries to a higher level of abstraction the familiar theory of the social contract found, say in Locke, Rousseau and Kant. In order to do this we are not to think of the original contract as one to enter a particular society or set up a particular form of government. Rather, the guiding idea is that the principles of justice for the basic structure of society are the object of the original agreement. They are the principles that free and rational persons concerned to further their own interests would accept in an initial position of equality as defining the fundamental terms of their association. These principles are to regulate all further agreements; they specify the kinds of social cooperation that can be entered into and the forms of government that can be established. This way of regarding the principles of justice I shall call justice as fairness. 

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