Rawls, John (1921–2002)

John Rawls was perhaps the most prominent and broadly influential American political philosopher of the 20th century. Rawls is best known for his 1971 work, A Theory of Justice, which argues in favor of the institutions of the modern liberal-democratic welfare state against egalitarian socialism, on the one hand, and classical liberalism, on the other hand.

After teaching for a time at Cornell University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Rawls joined the philosophy department at Harvard University in 1962 and remained there for the rest of his long career. During the 1950s, Rawls's work eschewed a straightforward analysis of moral concepts, then popular among philosophers, but instead attempted to describe a general procedure for moral decision making along Kantian lines. His work also was informed ...

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