Ways in to the Text
John Rawls (1921-2002) was one of the twentieth century's most influential American philosophers. John Rawls, the author of A Theory of Justice (1971). John Rawls's aim in A Theory of Justice is to develop a new way for people to think about justice. He wants to offer an alternative to the ideas of utilitarian philosophy. Utilitarianism argues that the morality of an action should be judged according to its consequences; a "virtuous" action achieves the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Rawls argues that a truly just society is one that would be considered just by all of its members, regardless of their social class or religious or moral beliefs. As it is hard for any individual to imagine what a just society would look like from a perspective other than their own, Rawls provides tools to help his readers make this empathetic leap.