John Rawls Theory of Justice - Facts & Ideology [UPSC Notes] (2023)

Published in 1971, ‘A Theory of Justice’ is a work on ethical values and political philosophy by John Rawls, the philosopher. The book portrays the attempts made by the author to represent an alternative moral theory to utilitarianism as well as discusses the major challenges and problems of distributive justice.

In this book, John Rawls has presented that his theory of justice is strictly political justice as opposed to the other forms of justices and disciplines. If you wish to read the book, John Rawls Theory of Justice PDF is available online on various websites.

Candidates can get the List of Books and their Authors at the linked article and prepare for the upcoming competitive exams.

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What Is John Rawls Theory of Justice?

In his book, A Theory of Justice, John Rawls brings forth the argument in favor of a principled reconciliation of liberty and equality, which is meant to be the governing force behind the basic structure of an orderly society. This argument is backed by inspiration taken from David Hume. Additionally, John Rawls also believed in the concept of justice as fairness. That means every person should be treated with fairness and recommends equal basic liberties, equal opportunities to similar individuals, and offering the highest possible benefits to the less advantaged members of society.

This theory of justice, as believed by Rawls, helps in the functioning of a just society. This section is crucial in the chapter of John Rawls Theory of Justice UPSC exam.

John Rawls also adds that the modern-day society should be structured well enough that the people are able to enjoy the maximum possible liberty keeping in mind that an individual’s liberty does not harm the liberty or wellbeing of other members of society.

Also, certain inequalities are to be allowed in society if their absence brings more harm than good. Finally, if there are inequalities such as the aforementioned, less fortunate members of society should not suffer solely for their absence of resources to deal with them, and it must be made sure that it’s not hard for them to occupy a position of power.

This is, in a nutshell, John Rawls Theory of Justice summary. Read it thoroughly to have a good understanding of the topic.

Criticism Faced by John Rawls Theory of Justice

After its release, John Rawls’ Theory of Justice has received a lot of criticisms from fellow philosophers and book reviewers.

Various philosophers who are advocates of the theory of strict equality criticized the book by saying that certain inequalities that are to be permitted in the eyes of John Rawls are unacceptable even if they did benefit the least advantaged members of society. They also argued that this approach of allowing certain inequalities upsets the balance of a well-structured society that Rawls spoke about in his book. Lastly, as Rawls primarily used utilitarianism as the main theory for comparing his own theory, philosophers criticized the book for not portraying maximum utility. They protested against the portrayal of the Difference Principle.

While making John Rawls Theory of Justice notes, make sure you include these criticisms as well and study them thoroughly, for this will finalize your position in the list of successful aspirants.

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Frequently Asked Questions on John Rawls Theory of Justice?

Who was John Rawls?

John Bordley Rawls was an American philosopher who specialized in the field of morality and politics. Heavily influenced by the likes of Immanuel Kant, John Locke, Aristotle, and David Hume, John Rawls has written a lot of books on matters related to political philosophy. His most notable work that is still critically acclaimed around the world is A Theory of Justice, published in 1971. Other notable works include Justice as Fairness, The Law of Peoples, and Political Liberalism. Finally, Rawls has also received the Schock Prize for Logic and Philosophy and the National Humanities Medal in 1999.

What are the four different types of justice?

The four types of justice are:

  • Distributive: Determining the distribution of resources.
  • Procedural: Determining the level of fairness between the members of society.
  • Retributive: Looking at the wellbeing of society by implementing punishments for wrongdoings.
  • Restorative: Restoring the relations based on rightness.

The various types of justices are to be studied very thoroughly as they are a major part of your UPSC syllabus.

What is Political Philosophy?

Political philosophy is a field of study specializing in the philosophical aspect of the government’s functioning. It also addresses the questions regarding the nature, scope, and legitimacy of public agents and government institutions and the relationship between them to understand the functioning of the government.

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