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4.7 out of 5 stars
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4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 24 February 2010
Buyers should be advised that this edition (2005) is the reissue of the first edition (1971) of A Theory of Justice. The revised edition (1999) A Theory of Justice Rev (Paper) (Belknap) is shorter. If you read Theory of Jutice for a course, I'd ask the lecturer which edition you should buy. On the one hand, a lot of the secondary literature will refer to the 1971 edition (basically everything written between 1971 and 1998--note that the revised edition includes a conversion table). On the other hand, the 1999 edition reflects Rawls' thought at the time slightly more faithfully (still: to understand Rawls' later work, one needs to read his Political Liberalism (John Dewey Essays in Philosophy) and, perhaps, also his (2001) Justice as Fairness: A Restatement).

Theory of Justice itself has become a classic and is quite beyond an Amazon rating. Anyone interested in political philosophy should read it--whether you agree with its thesis or not is an entirely different question.
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on 25 February 1998
Rawls exposition is clear; He defines Justice as the first virtue of society, and then defines Justice as Fairness, and proceeds from there to a description of a set of formally fair procedures for constructing a just society. Chief among those is his doctrine of "The Original Position", i.e. the situation in which a person takes no thought for personal advantage, including one's own in-born abilities, and then attempts to construct an ethical framework to guide the constitution of society. Although the work is vague, it is because he necessarily works at a very high level of abstraction. I also believe his work is -wrong- (because I think valuing human life is the first virtue of human society, not justice), but it is the clearest description of Kantian analytic social theory ever presented. As such, if it -is- wrong, it is because analytic social theories are wrong as a class, not because Rawls made mistakes. A very good book.
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on 22 September 2011
A classic! If you are going to read only one book in political philosophy read this one and its revised version. John Rawls's conception of social justice of course is yet to be fully appreciated ( although over 5000 academic papers were published on the themes introduced in this book in the first few years following its publication). Some commentators have placed him next to Aristotle and John Locke and if you like to know why find your answer in a close reading of this marvellous treasure. Some have gone further and suggested for centuries to come the world won't see another great philosopher at his stand. You won't be surprised if you read this book for yourself and find out why there is so much emphasis on this book and its relation to political philosophy and Jurisprudence at present. John Rawls himself was surprised by the huge public reaction and the ever- increased interest generated following the publication of this book considering he was relatively unknown at the time and the discipline of political philosophy was pronounced dead by some of the greatest minds on earth.
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on 28 September 2000
John Rawls was deservingly noted for his contributions to philosophy with the National Humanities Medal in 1999. This remarkable book examines justice in society through the prisms of utilitarianism and social contract theory: evaluating the two it clearly argues for the recognition of "individual" experience. It is drawn from journal essays written over a number of years, and is divided into three parts: Theory, Institutions, and Endsthink. This revised edition is one of the most substantial contributions to moral philosophy of the past few decades. It is a very persuasive book, being very well argued and carefully composed, with possible objections and counterarguments fairly weighed and considered: at the same time it conveys a moral vision and a ruling idea, maintaining the strongly marked personal attitude to experience. Although the book is firmly within the traditions of analytical philosophy, and has the virtues of this genre, there is no pretense of a degree of precision that the subject matter does not admit.
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on 4 December 2013
This book provokes a great discussion on the what the nature of justice may be. Proposing an egalitarian distributive model of justice and of human goods that has and will continue to inspire. Striking at the roots of the very concept of justice, Rawls provokes deep thoughts and great discussions.
This book as one of the most prevailing contemporary work on the ethics of justice is one that should be read by anybody who has an interest in philosophy, law, politics, sociology and history. However these are but a few disciplines that this book speaks to, as it has such a wide relevance across so many disciplines that 'A Theory of Justice' is a book for the ages. Even if it is for no more than something to talk about over a pint or a cup of tea this this book will come in useful.
A must if you want to know anything, this book will do the job and change your life.
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on 15 April 2009
This is the only book that has significantly changed my outlook on the world. Using rationality to promote a socialist/liberal ideology is extremely useful in attacking The Right's love affair with rationality. It is the best work that deconstructs 'ron paul' libertarianism and Nozick's subsequent work doesn't even make a scratch on this masterpiece.
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on 24 September 1998
John Rawls offers a theory that not only refutes utility, but offers a profound alternative. The veil of ignorance is an amazing concept and ensures true fairness with in a distrubutive system. Rawls has created an sound argument with little room for error.
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on 29 November 1996
Rawls manages to redefine the idea of moral ethics. By creating an ideal world--a world without knowledge of any other-- he idealizes a true liberal democracy.
This book is considered the handbook for the new morality.
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on 4 May 2013
This was delivered more speedily than I had expected. It was in excellent condition and I have already started to read it. My first excursion into philosophy and I'm enjoying this book.
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on 10 May 1999
A Theory of Justice addresses most every issue concerning the many aspects of Justice. Although many contentions I disagree, I must credit John Rawls for endeavoring to take upon such a LARGE task.
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