A Brief Inquiry into the Meaning of Sin & Faith

– John Rawls, edited by Thomas Nagel, A Brief Inquiry into the Meaning of Sin & Faith (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010).
Summary from Publisher: A Brief Inquiry into the Meaning of Sin and Faith is Rawls’s undergraduate senior thesis, submitted in December 1942, just before he entered the army. At that time Rawls was deeply religious; the thesis is a significant work of… More

Lectures on the History of Political Philosophy

– John Rawls, edited by Samuel Freeman, Lectures on the History of Political Philosophy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007).
Summary from Publisher: This last book by the late John Rawls, derived from written lectures and notes for his long-running course on modern political philosophy, offers readers an account of the liberal political tradition from a scholar viewed by many as… More

Justice as Fairness: A Restatement

– John Rawls, edited by Erin Kelley, Justice as Fairness: A Restatement (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001).
Summary from Publisher: This book originated as lectures for a course on political philosophy that Rawls taught regularly at Harvard in the 1980s. In time the lectures became a restatement of his theory of justice as fairness, revised in light of his more… More

Lectures on the History of Moral Philosophy

– John Rawls, edited by Barbara Herman, Lectures on the History of Moral Philosophy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000).
Summary from Publisher: The premier political philosopher of his day, John Rawls, in three decades of teaching at Harvard, has had a profound influence on the way philosophical ethics is approached and understood today. This book brings together the lectures… More

The Law of Peoples

– John Rawls, The Law of Peoples, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999), including the paper “The Idea of Public Reason Revisited.”
Summary from Publisher: This book consists of two parts: the essay “The Idea of Public Reason Revisited,” first published in 1997, and “The Law of Peoples,” a major reworking of a much shorter article by the same name published in… More

Collected Papers

– John Rawls, edited by Samuel Freeman, Collected Papers (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999).
Summary from Publisher: John Rawls’s work on justice has drawn more commentary and aroused wider attention than any other work in moral or political philosophy in the twentieth century. Rawls is the author of two major treatises, A Theory of Justice (1971)… More

Political Liberalism

– John Rawls, Political Liberalism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993; Revised 1996, 2005).
Summary from Publisher: This book continues and revises the ideas of justice as fairness that John Rawls presented in A Theory of Justice but changes its philosophical interpretation in a fundamental way. That previous work assumed what Rawls calls a… More

A Theory of Justice

– John Rawls, A Theory of Justice (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1971. Revised 1999).
Summary from Publisher: Since it appeared in 1971, John Rawls’s A Theory of Justice has become a classic. The author has now revised the original edition to clear up a number of difficulties he and others have found in the original book. Rawls aims to… More


Burton Dreben: A Reminiscence

– in Juliet Floyd and Sanford Shieh, eds., Future Pasts: Perspectives on the Place of the Analytic Tradition in Twentieth-Century Philosophy, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.)

Reply to Habermas

– John Rawls, "Reply to Habermas," Journal of Philosophy, 93:3 (March 1995).

The Law of Peoples

– in On Human Rights: The Oxford Amnesty Lectures, 1993, ed., Steven Shute and Susan Hurley (New York: Basic Books, 1993), pp. 41–82.
One aim of this essay is to sketch in a short space—I can do no more than that—how the law of peoples may be developed out of liberal ideas of justice similar to but more general than the idea I called justice as fairness and presented in my book A Theory… More

The Domain of the Political and Overlapping Consensus

– John Rawls, "The Domain of the Political and Overlapping Consensus," New York University Law Review 64 (1989): 233–55.
Excerpt: In a society marked by a pluralism of comprehensive moral views the ability of a constitutional regime to maintain widespread allegiance is due to “overlapping consensus.” Those with divergent comprehensive views may nonetheless agree… More

The Priority of Right and Ideas of the Good

John Rawls, "The Priority of Right and Ideas of the Good," Philosophy and Public Affairs 17 (1988): 251–76.
“The idea of the priority of right is an essential element in what I have called political liberalism, and it has a central role in justice as fairness as a form of that view. That priority may give rise to misunderstandings: it may be thought, for… More

On the Idea of an Overlapping Consensus

John Rawls, "On the Idea of an Overlapping Consensus," Oxford Journal for Legal Studies 7 (1987): 1–25.
The aims of political philosophy depend on the society it addresses. In a constitutional democracy one of its most important aims is presenting a political conception of justice that can not only provide a shared public basis for the justification of… More


Mark Blitz on Contemporary Liberalism vs. Natural Rights Liberalism

– "Mark Blitz on The American Mind" hosted by Charles Kesler, May, 2014.
On this episode of the “American Mind,” Mark Blitz compares contemporary liberalism (perhaps best articulated in the thought of John Rawls) and the natural rights liberalism of thinkers like John Locke.

Professor Tamar Gendler: Equality

– YaleCourses, YouTube, uploaded September 26, 2012.
In a Yale Open Course lecture, Professor Gendler explores John Rawls’ central claims: that “justice is the first virtue of social institutions,” and that the just society is that which rational and self-interested individuals would choose for themselves… More

Thomas Pogge on John Rawls

– Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, YouTube, uploaded on January 19, 2012.
Thomas Pogge describes what it was like to study under John Rawls.

Professor Ian Shapiro: Distributive Justice and the Welfare State

– Yale Course, YouTube, uploaded on April 6, 2011.
00:00 – Chapter 1. Principle of Justice I: Distribution of Liberties 04:46 – Chapter 2. Principle of Justice IIb: Fair Equality of Opportunity 09:16 – Chapter 3. Principle of Justice IIa: Incomes and Wealth 23:21 – Chapter 4.… More

Professor Ian Shapiro: The Rawlsian Social Contract

– Yale Courses, YouTube, uploaded on April 6, 2011.
Moral Foundations of Politics (PLSC 118) The next and final Enlightenment tradition to be examined in the class is that of John Rawls, who, according to Professor Shapiro, was a hugely important figure not only in contemporary political philosophy, but also… More

Hayek and Buchanan: Rawls, Egalitarianism and Social Justice

– FreeToChooseNetwork, YouTube,  uploaded on August 24, 2010.
In this archival footage from Free To Choose Network, James Buchanan and Friedrich Hayek discuss the meaning of the term “social justice”. Hayek concludes that John Rawls erred in his distributive scheme and that the term social justice has no… More


Notable Students of Rawls

David Lyons, Boston University Thomas Nagel, NYU Thomas Scanlon, Harvard University Onora O’Neill, UK House of Lords Allan Gibbard, University of Michigan Norman Daniels, Harvard University Michael Stocker, Syracuse University Thomas Hill, University of… More