This is an encyclopedia entry (for the IVR Encyclopedia of legal and political philosophy) covering John Rawls. It aims to provide a general but not superficial introduction to Rawls's theory of justice, justice as fairness.
This is the introduction to the Ashgate volume on Rawls in their history of political thought series. It puts Rawls's life and work in context and then discusses the essays included in the volume, essays of high quality likely to shape scholarship on Rawls for the coming decades.
In this review essay, I first set out and then subject to criticism the main claims advanced by William Talbott in his excellent recent book, “Which Rights Should be Universal?”. Talbott offers a conception of basic universal human rights as the minimally necessary and sufficient conditions to political legitimacy. I argue that his conception is at once too robustly liberal and democratic and too inattentive to key features of the rule of law to play this role. I suggest that John (...) Rawls’s conception of human rights comes closer to hitting the mark Talbott sets for himself and that Talbott incorrectly rejects Rawls’s view. I conclude that what likely divides Talbott and Rawls is that Rawls, but not Talbott, explicitly frames the inquiry into the minimally necessary and sufficient conditions to political legitimacy in terms of a liberal democratic people attempting to determine, as a matter of its just foreign policy, whether or not to recognize other organized polities as independent and self-determining within the international order. (shrink)