eBook - ePub


Samuel Freeman

Share book
576 pages
ePUB (mobile friendly)
Available on iOS & Android
eBook - ePub


Samuel Freeman

Book details
Book preview
Table of contents

About This Book

In this superb introduction, Samuel Freeman introduces and assesses the main topics of Rawls' philosophy. Starting with a brief biography and charting the influences on Rawls' early thinking, he goes on to discuss the heart of Rawls's philosophy: his principles of justice and their practical application to society.

Subsequent chapters discuss Rawls's theories of liberty, political and economic justice, democratic institutions, goodness as rationality, moral psychology, political liberalism, and international justice anda concluding chapter considers Rawls' legacy.

Clearly setting out the ideas in Rawls' masterwork, A Theory of Justice, Samuel Freeman also considers Rawls' other key works, including Political Liberalism and The Law of Peoples. An invaluable introduction to this deeply influential philosopher, Rawls is essential reading for anyone coming to his work for the first time.

Frequently asked questions
How do I cancel my subscription?
Simply head over to the account section in settings and click on “Cancel Subscription” - it’s as simple as that. After you cancel, your membership will stay active for the remainder of the time you’ve paid for. Learn more here.
Can/how do I download books?
At the moment all of our mobile-responsive ePub books are available to download via the app. Most of our PDFs are also available to download and we're working on making the final remaining ones downloadable now. Learn more here.
What is the difference between the pricing plans?
Both plans give you full access to the library and all of Perlego’s features. The only differences are the price and subscription period: With the annual plan you’ll save around 30% compared to 12 months on the monthly plan.
What is Perlego?
We are an online textbook subscription service, where you can get access to an entire online library for less than the price of a single book per month. With over 1 million books across 1000+ topics, we’ve got you covered! Learn more here.
Do you support text-to-speech?
Look out for the read-aloud symbol on your next book to see if you can listen to it. The read-aloud tool reads text aloud for you, highlighting the text as it is being read. You can pause it, speed it up and slow it down. Learn more here.
Is Rawls an online PDF/ePUB?
Yes, you can access Rawls by Samuel Freeman in PDF and/or ePUB format, as well as other popular books in Philosophy & Philosophy History & Theory. We have over one million books available in our catalogue for you to explore.





1 Philippe van Parijs’s article “Difference Principles” in effect makes this charge in its opening section. See The Cambridge Companion to Rawls, Samuel Freeman, ed., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003, 201–02.
2 Among other things, Judge Hoffman bound and gagged the defendants to keep them quiet in the courtroom.


1 “A Brief Inquiry into the Meaning of Sin and Faith: An Interpretation Based on the Concept of Community,” Senior Thesis submitted to the Department of Philosophy of Princeton University, December 1942. Publication forthcoming, Harvard University Press.
2 For example, The Thirty-nine Articles, the principal confession of the Church of England (and of the Episcopal Church Rawls belonged to) affirm the orthodox Christian doctrines of the Trinity, the Person of Christ, and human sinfulness, and are Protestant in character in their emphasis on justification by faith, the centrality of the Scriptures, and two holy sacraments (baptism and the eucharist). See The Study of Anglicanism, Stephen Sykes and John Booty, eds., New York: Fortress Press, 1988, 134–37.
3 Here Rawls adds the footnote quoting Kant: “ ‘If justice perishes, then it is no longer worthwhile for men to live upon the earth.’ Rechtslehre, in Remark E following §49, Ak: VI: 332,” LP, 128n.
4 See John Rawls, Collected Papers, Samuel Freeman, ed., Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999, ch. 1.
5 “John Rawls: For the Record,” an interview with The Harvard Review of Philosophy, 1, 1999, 38–47.
6 See Locke, Second Treatise on Government, sects 54, 6, 59 Kant, The Metaphysical Elements of Justice (Rechtslehre), VI: 237–38 of the standard Akademie edition.
7 See Rawls’s lectures on Locke, in his Lectures on the History of Political Philosophy, Samuel Freeman, ed., Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007.
8 See Rawls’s lectures on Hobbes in Lectures on the History of Political Philosophy, Samuel Freeman, ed., Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007.
9 David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, J.B. Schneewind, ed., Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, 1983, 28 (Section III, Part II).
10 Joseph Raz, among others, contends that the justification of authority or principles of justice cannot be that people agree to them; rather, justification must reside in people’s reasons for agreeing to authority or principles. The mere fact of agreement, like the mere fact of wanting or willing something, cannot justify anything. Only objective reasons can justify, and agreements by themselves, like desires, cannot serve this role. Raz, Ethics in the Public Domain, Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1994, chs 4, 16.
11 See the first lecture on Rousseau in Rawls’s Lectures on the History of Political Philosophy for Rawls’s discussion of Rousseau’s Discourse on Inequality and the doctrine of natural goodness.
12 See works by Joshua Cohen cited in the bibliography. Also Amy Gutmann and Dennis Thompson, Democracy and Disagreement, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998. Jürgen Habermas’s work also has had a major influence in discussions of deliberative democracy.
13 In Discourse on Political Economy (1755), Rousseau says: “Even his own reason ought to be suspect to him, and the only reason he ought to follow is the public reason, which is the law.” Then later: “It is to law alone that men owe justice and liberty. It . . . reestablishes as a civil right the natural equality among men. This . . . dictates to each citizen the precepts of public reason.” In Rousseau, The Basic Political Writings, Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, 1987, 113, 117.
14 Rawls says Hegel misreads Kant’s categorical imperative as a purely formal criterion with few substantive implications (TJ, 251n./221n. rev.); that he misreads equality of opportunity (TJ, 300–01/265 rev.); and that Hegel’s depiction of civil society is based on Adam Smith and is a “private society” that denies the possibility of social union (TJ, 521n./457n. rev.).
15 Rawls’s Hegel lectures are in his Lectures on the History of Moral Philosophy, Barbara Herman, ed., Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 2000. They were first written in the 1970s, and later were revised.
16 Rawls did, however, retain Kant’s sharp distinction between theoretical and practical reason – it underlies his idea of the independence of moral theory and also political liberalism.
17 Rawls, Lectures on the History of Moral Philosophy, 336.
18 Ibid., 332
19 See “Outline for a Decision Procedure in Ethics” (1951), in Rawls, Collected Papers, ch. 1.
20 Rawls says that he benefited from Quine’s work on justification, but that the initial idea of reflective equilibrium was worked out prior to Quine’s work, in Rawls’s own “Outline for a Decision Procedure in Ethics” (1951), where he sets forth a method of justification specifically applicable to moral principles. See TJ, 579n./507n. rev.
21 See Rawls’s Lectures on the History of Political Philosophy, 384–85 on Sidgwick’s criteria for justification.
22 The contrast of Sidgwick’s rational intuitionism with constructivism in moral philosophy begins with Rawls’s 1980 Dewey Lectures, “Kantian Constructivism in Moral Philosophy.” See Collected Papers, ch. 16, Lecture III: “Construction and Objectivity,” 340–59.
23 See TJ, 48–49. This sentence and the entire paragraph surrounding it were deleted in the revised edition. Cf. TJ, 578/507 rev., where Rawls also refers to the “Socratic aspects” of moral theory.
24 See Ronald Dworkin, “Objectivity and Truth: You’d Better Believe It,” Philosophy and Public Affairs, 1996, 25, 117–18; see also Thomas Nagel, The Last Word, New York: Oxford University Press, 1997, ch. 6.
25 David Gauthier argues that economics and decision and game theory provide greater support for a Hobbesian contractarian view, of the sort he defends in Morals by Agreement, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986. Kin Binmore argues in Natural Justice, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005, that utilitarianism is supported by evolutionary theory and decision theory. Allan Gibbard made a similar argument in his Tanner Lectures at Berkeley in 2006.
26 Compare this with Kant’s claim: “A moral principle is really nothing but a dimly conceived metaphysics, which is inherent in every man’s rational constitution – as the teacher will easily find out who tries to catechize his pupil in the Socratic method concerning the imperative to duty and its application to the moral judgment of his actions.” The Metaphysical Principles of Virtue, trans. James Ellington, Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1963, 32 (Ak. VI, 376). See also Kant’s Introduction to Part I of the Metaphysics of Morals: “Every man has such a metaphysics within himself, although commonly only in an obscure way: for without a priori principles, how could he believe that he has within himself a power of universal legislation?” (Ibid., 15 (Ak. VI, 216)). Rawls called these passages to my attention in the early 1980s when working on Kantian Constructivism and his lectures on Kant in LHMP, and said that by “metaphysics within himself” Kant simply means “moral conception.”
27 This is the title of Rawls’s 1980 Dewey Lectures, in CP, ch. 16. Rawls differs from Kant (as he has emphasized) in rejecting the idea that moral principles are a priori, and that they have a basis simply in “pure practical reasoning”. As we see in Rawls’s discussion of stability (see Chapter 6 below), it is very important for the justification of principles of justice that they be compatible with human nature and general facts about social cooperation (see TJ, 51/44 rev.).
28 See Norman Daniels’s helpful discussions in his Justice and Justification, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1996, chs. 1–8, where he seems to read reflective equilibrium as a more general method of justification.
29 See Rawls, “Reply to Habermas,” in Political Liberalism, New York: Columbia University Press (1995 paperback edition, 2004 expanded edition), 385–95.


1 See the Introduction to John Rawls, Political Liberalism, New York: Columbia University Press, 1993, xxiv.
2 Over time, Rawls formulated the first principle differently. The statement in the text is his final formulation from Political Liberalism (1993). In the Restatement, written in the early 1990s, the first principle begins: “Each person is to have the same indefeasible claim to a fully adequate scheme of equal basic liberties” (see John Rawls, Justice as Fairness: A Restatement, ed. Erin Kelly, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001, 42). The main difference between the formulation in the text (taken from PL) and that found in Theory is that in TJ it says “Each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive basic liberty,” (TJ, 60) or “most extersi...

Table of contents

Citation styles for Rawls
APA 6 Citation
Freeman, S. (2007). Rawls (1st ed.). Taylor and Francis. Retrieved from https://www.perlego.com/book/1626110/rawls-pdf (Original work published 2007)
Chicago Citation
Freeman, Samuel. (2007) 2007. Rawls. 1st ed. Taylor and Francis. https://www.perlego.com/book/1626110/rawls-pdf.
Harvard Citation
Freeman, S. (2007) Rawls. 1st edn. Taylor and Francis. Available at: https://www.perlego.com/book/1626110/rawls-pdf (Accessed: 14 October 2022).
MLA 7 Citation
Freeman, Samuel. Rawls. 1st ed. Taylor and Francis, 2007. Web. 14 Oct. 2022.