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Collected Papers [Paperback]

John Rawls

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Book Description

1 Mar 2001
John Rawls's work on justice has perhaps drawn more commentary and aroused wider attention than any other work in moral or political philosophy in the 20th century. This is a collection of his essays, some of which articulate views of justice and liberalism distinct from those found in his books. They are important in themselves because of deep issues about the nature of justice and moral reasoning, and liberlism they raise, as well as for the light they shed on the evolution of Rawls's views.

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What a body of work this is, and what an accomplishment. Collected Papers affords an opportunity to step back and see [Rawls's] work as a whole, as the elaboration of a single powerful and abiding idea...The other thing these papers show--and for this we should be grateful to Sam Freeman's persistence in having them republished--is how hard-won Rawls's achievement has been... This volume of Collected Papers stands as an inspiration to the next generation of theorists. -- Jeremy Waldron London Review of Books The course of Rawls's career can be followed clearly in the Collected Papers, whose twenty-seven chapters span forty-eight years...The writings of John Rawls, whom it is now safe to describe as the most important political philosopher of the twentieth century...owe their influence to the fact that their depth and their insight repay the close attention that their uncompromising theoretical weight and erudition demand. -- Thomas Nagel New Republic [John Rawls] has, among other things, rescued an endangered academic practice, the serious and disciplined study of the great issues of public values by professional philosophers, from imminent extinction and given a remarkable exemplary display of how to devote an entire intellectual life to the patient, frank and indefatigable study of a single great intellectual problem. His Collected Papers, naturally, covers the whole of that life, from two decades before he published his masterpiece, A Theory of Justice, in 1971 to more than 25 years later. -- John Dunn Times Higher Education Supplement The publication of this book is an important event. Since the appearance of Rawls's epoch-making A Theory of Justice in 1971, he has been acknowledged as America's-perhaps the world's--leading political philosopher...The story of 'How John Rawls Revived Political Philosophy and Rejuvenated Liberalism' is part of academic legend...Rawls is a sophisticated and ambitious thinker. His arguments are informed by a deep sense of history and draw on an array of different disciplines...Rawls also did the index to A Theory of Justice and it is a masterpiece of the art. Rawls's thoroughness, indeed, is the stuff of legends. -- Ben Rogers Prospect In 1971, Rawls published A Theory of Justice, which has come to be generally regarded as the century's major systematic work of substantive ethics and political philosophy; about 20 years later, in Political Liberalism, he examined issues arising from it. This collection includes nearly all of his published essays, beginning with the first (1951) and running to as recently as 1997 and an interview in 1998. It reveals his beginnings in utilitarianism and the dissatisfactions that led to his contractarianism and to his examination of such matters as public consensus in a pluralistic society, public reason, the compatibility of religious and comprehensive secular doctrine in a liberal society, commonality in human laws, Kant's moral philosophy, and more. These essays both clarify Rawls's thought and make significant contributions to their subject. -- Robert Hoffman Llibrary Journal [Collected Papers is] a nearly complete collection of Rawls's short essays from 1951 through 1998. What is arguably the most widely discussed political theory of the second half of the 20th century emerged from an evolutionary process. By making available in one volume the papers through which Harvard philosopher Rawls initially tried out his ideas, Freeman provides easy access to the steps taken along the way...What the reader will find in this volume are the starts and stops, the grappling with issues of moral philosophy, and especially later in his career, the confrontation with concerns such as religious belief that threaten the assumptions of rationality and the positive value of reasonableness upon which his vision of justice depends. A convenient and welcome compilation. Kirkus Reviews Editor Freeman has assembled almost all the articles of 20th-century American philosopher John Rawls. Originally published elsewhere during the span of his career, these works together testify to Rawls's belief that a just society is an actionable idea. They anticipate his two most distinguished and influential works, A Theory of Justice and Political Liberalism...Freeman's anthology is exemplary and ought to appeal to a wide professional audience and the educated public. -- A. S. Rosenbaum Choice

About the Author

John Rawls was James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard University. He was recipient of the 1999 National Humanities Medal. Samuel Freeman is Professor of Philosophy and Law, University of Pennsylvania.

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging look at Rawls' lifework 4 May 2000
By Andrew N. Carpenter - Published on Amazon.com
Rawls' doctoral dissertation, completed at Harvard in 1951, sketched a procedure for adjudicating certain political and moral conflicts. Twenty years later he parlayed this procedure into his famous elaboration of social contract theory, his conception of "justice as fairness." This idea marks the heart of Rawls' _A Theory of Justice_, the most important and influential work of political philosophy of the twentieth century. His central thesis, that a conception of justice as fairness would be accepted by all members of liberal constitutional democracies, motivated Rawls' justly-celebrated philosophical defense of democratic liberalism. In _Political Liberalism_ (1993), Rawls deepened his philosophical analysis by articulating an even broader principle, that of "public reason," which he believes is the shared basis for justifying (among other things) liberty of conscience, freedom of thought, and toleration of difference within liberal societies. Most recently, in _The Law of Peoples_ (1999), Rawls has stretched the social contract yet further by defending an even more general philosophical principle, that of the "just law of peoples." Just as the liberal principles of justice of fairness and public reason allowed him to develop complex theories about political relations within liberal democracies, Rawls believes that, because it would be acceptable to both constitutional liberals and members of certain illiberal societies, this new principle forms the basis of a social contract more inclusive than those of his earlier treatises. Rawls' vision of a realizable near-utopia emerges through his beautiful theoretical elaborations of a social contract theory that takes his principles--as well as the existence of a world burdened with outlaw states, crushing poverty, and problematical absolutism--utterly seriously.
Rawls' _Collected Papers_ brings together nearly all of his major and minor shorter publications on these and related issues. Many essays explore in greater depth issues raised by critics of _A Theory of Justice_ and _Political Liberalism_, and all of them together paint a fascinating portrait of Rawls' philosophical development between 1951 and the present.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great book 13 Feb 2007
By Paulo Haus Martins - Published on Amazon.com
The best of Rawls in a fine edition. Great book to read.
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