The Independence of Moral Theory

John Rawls, "The Independence of Moral Theory," Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 48 (1975): 5–22.


I wish to sketch a point of view towards moral philosophy and express a conviction as to how I think a central part of this subject is, for the present anyway, best pursued. For much of the time my discussion is methodological, and while such matters are peculiarly controversial, I believe that the point of view I shall describe is now, and perhaps always has been, held by many, at least since the 18th century. My comments aim to support, by illustrations suitable to our time and place, a familiar tradition in this part of philosophy.

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