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Rawls, John (1921–2002)

John Rawls, an American philosopher who held the position of Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University, is widely considered to be the most important political philosopher of the latter part of the 20th century. His highly influential writings have contributed greatly to the shaping of contemporary political thought. He began his philosophic career in the context of a cultural climate permeated by the assumptions of utilitarianism with its understanding of individuals as merely means to a goal of general social well-being. A strong advocate of the liberal political tradition, he argued for a political philosophy that, unlike utilitarianism, stresses issues of justice and individual rights.

In his most important work, A Theory of Justice, published in 1971, Rawls sought procedures that embodied the moral ideal ...

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