Illustration of a woman with outstretched arms that are holding the scales of justice

A Theory of Justice

by John Rawls

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To what extent do you agree or disagree with Rawls’s theory of justice as fairness? Can you suggest an alternative theory?

Read one of Rawls’s articles from the Collected Papers (1999). What is his argument? How does it fit in with his theory of justice as fairness? To what extent do you agree or disagree with Rawls’s argument in this article?

Rawls makes reference to a number of influential philosophers (as listed in the Key Figures section of this entry). Pick one of these philosophers and learn more about his life. What were this person’s contributions to philosophical thought?

A Theory of Justice was first published in 1971 during an era of great turmoil in American history. Learn more about one of the major events or series of events that took place in the United States between the mid-1960s and mid-1970s. In what ways did this event raise issues relevant to Rawls’s conception of a just society?

Evaluate your own society in accordance with the principles of justice as fairness put forth by Rawls. To what extent is it a just society in its basic political and legal structure? In what ways do you consider it an unjust society? What measures could be taken to make it more just?

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