(excerpt from a 2001 article on John Rawls in the Chronicle of Higher Education)
John Rawls, who turned 80 this year, is the most distinguished moral and political philosopher of our age. Initially isolated in a world of Anglo-American philosophy preoccupied with questions of logic and language, Rawls played a major role in reviving an interest in the substantive questions of political philosophy. What makes a society just? How is social justice connected to an individual’s pursuit of the good life? By now, the influence of his ideas and his impact as a teacher, first at Princeton, Cornell, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and then for many years at Harvard, have made those questions central to philosophy, and our age rich in arguments about justice, respect, and liberty.
We are not reading the complete book A Theory of Justice, but only a journal article that he published that summarizes his ideas (however incomplete, in the article) of Rawls’ thinking about justice. For a summary of Rawls’ ideas, which breaks down the major ideas not only in A Theory of Justice but his other writings, see this webpage.