John Rawls

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John Rawls' theory of justice has been the major theory of liberty and justice in the latter part of the 20th century. Robert Nozick's Anarchy, State, and Utopia was merely one of many reactions to Rawls.


A Theory of Justice (book)
Basic income and social justice: Why philosophers disagree [More...]
A brilliantly clear presentation about why John Rawls and Ronald Dworkin disagree with the idea of Basic Income and Philippe Van Parijs' solution.
Is Life Unfair? Milton Friedman and John Rawls [More...]
John Rawls smacks down Milton Friedman's idea of passivity in the face of inequality.
A delightful, musical burlesque of philosophy that pits John Rawls against his arch-nemeses Robert Nozick and Ayn Rand. Vimeo rental. Highly recommended. View the preview and read the Wikipedia page for a synopsis.
Justice as Fairness: A Restatement (book)
Property-Owning Democracy and the Demands of Justice [More...]
Property-Owning Democracy is John Rawls' idea of justice appropriate to societies committed to both individual freedom and democratic equality. The goal is to limit runaway inequalities which restrict liberties, especially of the worst off. Inequalities that benefit the worst off are permitted.
The Law of Peoples: with "The Idea of Public Reason Revisited" (book)
The Nozickian case for Rawls’ difference principle [More...]
"There is a very strong Nozickian case to be made for Rawls’ difference principle. Because the reality of scarcity causes the use of resources to necessarily infringe upon the liberty of others, it makes sense to say (as Nozick does) that you should only be able to undertake such use if it does not worsen the position of others."


The problem is that this homesteading action is outrageously un-libertarian. It involves a single actor unilaterally deciding to eliminate the previously existing access every other person had to some piece of the world, doing so without the consent of those dispossessed of their access, and through the use of violence (i.e. if you try to access the object they now claim to own, they physically push you off or worse).
Matt Bruenig, "The Nozickian case for Rawls’ difference principle"
"Agrarian Justice" forged a path to this modern, systemic understanding of justice. In it, Paine envisioned justice as requiring that the lowest rung be above poverty level. He recognized that achieving this required forging novel, positive (legal) forms of property rights--social insurance and stakeholder grants--that could not be deduced from local or "natural" principles of justice. He saw, if only partially, the limitations of market- and desert-based justifications of property rights that ignore social externalities. Most astonishingly, he stood at the cusp of a famous systemic principle of equality--a principle defining the limits of justified inequality. In the words of its most influential advocate, John Rawls, "social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that they are . . . reasonably expected to be to everyone's advantage."
Elizabeth Anderson, "Thomas Paine’s “Agrarian Justice” and the Origins of Social Insurance"