What did John Rawls consider a well-ordered society?

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John Rawls's seminal work, A Theory Justice (1971), returned political philosophy to many of its founding questions about the nature of freedom, justice, and fairness found in Plato and Aristotle. Rawls here attempts to answer the question: what makes for a just society? This is a question that ultimately comes down to the distribution of both political rights and economic goods.

A well-ordered society for Rawls is one in which all citizens are treated equally under the law and which promotes individual liberty to the extent that it does not infringe on the well-being of others. Rawls carefully navigates a debate still prevalent in political discourse today, that between equality of opportunity and equality of outcomes. Rawls doesn't fall on one side of this debate, he attempts to seek a compromise. Rawls thinks that a well-ordered society should guarantee equality of opportunity but also thinks it should be governed according to what he calls "The Difference Principle." The Difference...

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