A liberal author who tries to determine principles of just society with the help of hypothetical contract among members of a society. It is supposed that individuals who make this contract primarily care for their self-interest, that they are rational, well informed about human nature and functioning of society, and that they are placed under so called veil of ignorance. This last and the most important condition means that they do not know anything about those of their characteristics and circumstances that might influence impartiality of the decision-making. Since economic talent belongs to those characteristics, and since every party to the contract is afraid (not knowing his willingness to accept risks) that he could discover that he lacks such a talent after the veil is lifted, but at the same time wants to secure to himself as good position as possible, the difference principle will be chosen. It says that economic inequalities are allowed but only if they benefit even the least advantaged individuals. Namely, at the first glance it seems that this approach would induce individuals to chose strict equality among all members of their society. However, such a decision would not be beneficial to anyone because in that case the talented individuals would not want to work as productively as they otherwise could, which would result in inferior wealth of the whole society. Therefore, even those who are afraid that they might discover that they are the least advantaged (all the parties to the Rawlsian contract feel such a fear), would accept to grant greater share of resources to the talented but only if the latter give them some part of their extra wealth. This principle is in practice viewed as a justification of progressive taxation of the rich.

Rawls has many followers. The most important of them are:
Bruce Ackerman, Brian Barry, Will Kymlicka, Thomas Nagel, Thomas Pogge, Jeremy Waldron, etc.

  John Rawls
  Ronald Dworkin
  Right Libertarianism
Left Libertarianism
  Strict Egalitarianism
  Bibliography >