- Rawls, John
- (1921– )American moral and political philosopher. Born at Baltimore, Rawls was educated at Harvard and Oxford. After teaching at Princeton and Cornell he joined Harvard in 1959. His major work, A Theory of Justice (1971), injected new life into the study of political thought in Anglo-American philosophy, and has been a landmark for all subsequent discussion. In it Rawls considers the basic institutions of a society that could be chosen by rational people under conditions that ensure impartiality. These conditions are dramatized as an original position, characterized so that it is as if the participants are contracting into a basic social structure from behind a veil of ignorance, leaving them unable to deploy selfish considerations, or ones favouring particular kinds of person. Rawls argues that both a basic framework of liberties and a concern for the least well-off would characterize any society which it would be rational to choose. For further details see difference principle, original position.
Philosophy dictionary. Academic. 2011.