Reddit Reddit reviews A Theory of Justice

We found 14 Reddit comments about A Theory of Justice. Here are the top ones, ranked by their Reddit score.

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A Theory of Justice
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14 Reddit comments about A Theory of Justice:

u/Sawagurumi · 16 pointsr/theredpillright

George Orwell: 1984. Essential to understanding the Totalitarian Left, and ideas that have now entered our language and are becoming more relevant by the day, such as doublethink, thoughtcrime, and newspeak.

Donald J. Boudreaux: The Essential Hayek. (also Hayek's original works, eg The Road to Serfdom and The Constitution of Liberty, but they are much more expensive. This is a good introduction to the Austrian School of economics).

Carroll Quigley: Tragedy & Hope: a history of the world in our time.
> One of these persistent questions is typical of the twentieth century rather than of earlier times: Can our way of life survive? Is our civilization doomed to vanish, as did that of the Incas, the Sumerians, and the Romans? From Giovanni Battista Vico in the early eighteenth century to Oswald Spengler in the early twentieth century and Arnold J Toynbee in our own day, men have been puzzling over the problem of whether civilizations have a life cycle and follow a similar pattern of change. from this discussion emerged a fairly general agreement that men live in separately organized societies, each with its own distinct culture; that some of these societies, having writing and city life, exist on a higher level of culture than the rest, and should be called by the different term "civilizations"; and that these civilizations tend to pass through a common pattern of experience.

Carroll Quigley: The Evolution of Civilizations.
> In this perceptive look at the factors behind the rise and fall of civilizations, Professor Quigley seeks to establish the analytical tools necessary for understanding history. He examines the application of scientific method to the social sciences, then establishes his historical hypotheses. He poses a division of culture into six levels, from the more abstract to the more concrete—intellectual, religious, social, political, economic, and military—and he identifies seven stages of historical change for all civilizations: mixture, gestation, expansion, conflict, universal empire, decay, and invasion.

J.C. Unwin: Sex and Culture
> With care-free open-mindedness I decided to test, by a reference to human records, a somewhat startling conjecture that had been made by analytical psychologists. This suggestion was that if the social regulations forbid direct satisfaction of the sexual impulses the emotional conflict is expressed in another way, and that what we call 'civilization' has always been built up by compulsory sacrifices in the gratification of innate desires.

Sir John Glubb: The Fate of Empires and Search for Survival.
> d) The stages of the rise and fall of great nations seem to be:

>The Age of Pioneers (outburst)

> The Age of Conquests

>The Age of Commerce

>The Age of Affluence

>The Age of Intellect

>The Age of Decadence.

>(e) Decadence is marked by:





>An influx of foreigners

>The Welfare State

>A weakening of religion.

>(f) Decadence is due to:

>Too long a period of wealth and power


>Love of money

>The loss of a sense of duty.

>(g) The life histories of great states are amazingly similar, and are due to internal factors.

E. Belfort Bax: The Fraud of Feminism. (written in 1913, it clearly shows that there was no 'golden age' of feminism, and that feminists can never be satisfied).
> Though women have been conceded all the rights of men, their privileges as females have remained untouched, while the sentimental "pull" they have over men, and the favouritism shown them in the courts, civil and criminal, often in flagrant violation of elementary justice, continues as before. The result of their position on juries, as evinced in certain trials, has rather confirmed the remarks made in Chapter II. anent [concerning] hysteria than otherwise. The sex-bias of men in favour of women and the love of the advanced woman towards her sex-self show no sign of abatement.

And two recent important works in political philosophy that are therefore not available for free.

John Rawls. A Theory of Justice. A seminal book providing an alternative to Utilitarianism. "Rawls's "Theory of Justice" is widely and justly regarded as this century's most important work of political philosophy. "

T.M. Scanlon. What We Owe to Each Other. Following on from Rawls' insights, and applying them more broadly than only to justice, to what underpins a society working together. "What do we owe to each other? What obligations of honesty, respect, trust and consideration exist between people?"


Jonathan Haidt: Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion. Haidt shows that there are at least 6 foundations of what people see as social good. Of these, the Left see 'Caring' as the good, almost to the exclusion of everything else. Libertarians see 'Liberty' as the good, almost to the exclusion of everything else. Conservatives are fairly evenly balanced across the 6, and have the easiest time understanding the perspective of the others as a result. See also and You might know Haidt from this talk:

u/weirds3xstuff · 6 pointsr/changemyview

For political science, I liked "Why Nations Fail". For political theory, the 1-2 punch of "A Theory of Justice" and "Anarchy, State, and Utopia" is obligatory. If you ever just want to cry, there's "A Problem from Hell."

The political problem I'm most interested in is how to conduct votes. has some really good information about how different voting systems work and how the voting systems used in all developed democracies are not optimal. Best of luck.

u/DaSilence · 6 pointsr/AskLEO

>Could you elaborate on how a social contract makes following laws an ethical matter?

Not on Reddit, I don't have anywhere near that kind of time.

These three books are a great place to start. Consider me your intro to political philosophy professor.

u/[deleted] · 5 pointsr/law

I am a rising 3L. It would have been helpful if you gave a bit more information about why in the world you're considering becoming a lawyer. Since you didn't, I'm just going to give you a huge list of links to materials which have informed my general philosophical understanding of law, justice, and the legal profession and hope you find some of it interesting.


Dead Prez - Fuck the Law

Crass - Bloody Revolution

GG Allin - Fuck Authority

Wesley Willis - It’s Against the Law

Wilco - Against the Law

Golf Wang - Earl

MellowHype - Fuck the Police

KottonMouth Kings and ICP - Fuck the Police

RATM - Fuck the Police

Dead Kennedys - Police Truck

Choking Victim - Money

Anti-Flag - No Borders, No Nations

Utah Phillips - I Will Not Obey

Woody Guthrie - Jesus Christ

Todos Tus Muertos - Gente Que No

David Wrench - A Radical Song


Michel Foucault - Discipline and Punish(PDF Link)

[Thomas Geoghegan - The Law in Shambles](

Rawn James Jr. - Root and Branch

Deborah Rhode - In the Interests of Justice: Reforming the Legal Profession

Alan Dershowitz - Letters to a Young Lawyer

Richard Posner - Overcoming Law (specifically read "The Material Basis of Jurisprudence")

Susan Eaton - The Children in Room E4

Sunny Schwartz - Dreams from the Monster Factory: A Tale of Prison, Redemption, and One Woman's Fight to Restore Justice to All

Angela Davis - Are Prisons Obsolete?

Alan Dershowitz - The Best Defense

John Rawls - A Theory of Justice

Robert Nozick - Anarchy, State and Utopia

Ward Churchill - Perversions of Justice: Indigenous Peoples and Anglo-American Laws

J. Shoshanna Ehrlich - Who Decides? The Abortion Rights of Teens


Judgment at Nuremberg

A Civil Action

To Kill a Mockingbird

u/Dialectical_Dribbles · 4 pointsr/askphilosophy

The question of desert is central to considerations on justice. Two easy places to get an introduction online are the SEP’s entry and the IEP’s entry.

If you’re looking for particular texts, as far as the contemporary liberal tradition is concerned I recommend the contrast you can find between Walzer’s Spheres of Justice and Rawls’ A Theory of Justice.

In short, for Walzer desert and distribution should be considered based on a plurality of standards which he refers to as complex equality. Thus, ideas such as the right to vote and health care, as distinctly different social goods, should not be considered under the same ideas of desert and distributed according to the same principles. Whereas, by most readings, Rawls takes the route of making desert largely (or completely) inapplicable to matters of distributive justice, which is an interesting and ongoing debate in political philosophy on just how, if at all, desert matters for Rawls.

(Edit for type-o’s.)

u/ReallyNicole · 4 pointsr/DebateReligion

> The social contract is a book by Jean-Jaques Rousseau.

Holy fuck. Seriously? So whenever some humanist says to you "well we should move society forward because of the social contract" you thought they were talking about some book written a couple hundred years ago? Jesus, I'm sorry.

Maybe do some reading and catch up on what's happened in the past 250 years:

>Secular humanists believe we have a duty to help all humans improve their lives, correct?

Sure, but this in no way entails that human life has a purpose. That some moral claims are true doesn't alone entail that any teleological claims are true.

u/DrunkHacker · 3 pointsr/Libertarian

Three books I'd suggest, in the order I'd read them:

Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman

The Road to Serfdom by FA Hayek

Anarchy, State, and Utopia by Robert Nozick

Outside the libertarian canon, Rousseau's On the Social Contract and Rawls' A Theory of Justice should be on everyone's reading list. Rawls and Nozick are probably the two most influential political philosophers of the late 20th century and understanding their arguments about the justification of property rights and the original position are the ABCs of modern political debate.

u/Celektus · 3 pointsr/BreadTube

At least for Anarchists or other left-libertarians it should also be important to actually read up on some basic or even fundamental ethical texts given most political views and arguments are fundamentally rooted in morality (unless you're a orthodox Marxist or Monarchist). I'm sadly not familiar enough with applied ethics to link collections of arguments for specific ethical problems, but it's very important to know what broad system you're using to evaluate what's right or wrong to not contradict yourself.

At least a few very old texts will also be available for free somewhere on the internet like The Anarchist Library.

Some good intro books:

  • The Fundamentals of Ethics by Russ Shafer-Landau
  • The Elements of Moral Philosophy by James and Stuart Rachels
  • Ethics: A Very Short Introduction by Simon Blackburn

    Some foundational texts and contemporary authors of every main view within normative ethics:

  • Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotles for Classic Virtue-Ethics. Martha Nussbaum would be a contemporary left-wing Virtue-Ethicist who has used Marx account of alienation to argue for Global Justice.
  • Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals by Immanuel (or Emmanuel) Kant for Classic Deontology. Kantianism is a popular system to argue for anti-statism I believe even though Kant himself was a classical liberal. Christine Korsgaard would be an example of a contemporary Kantian.
  • The Methods of Ethics by Henry Sidgwick for Classic Utilitarianism. People usually recommend Utilitarianism by John Stuart Mill, but most contemporary Ethicists believe his arguments for Utilitarianism suck. 2 other important writers have been R. M. Hare and G. E. Moore with very unique deviations from classic Utilitarianism. A contemporary writer would be Peter Singer. Utilitarianism is sometimes seemingly leading people away from Socialism, but this isn't necessarily the case.
  • Between Facts and Norms and other works by the contemporary Critical Theorist Jürgen Habermas may be particularly interesting to Neo-Marxists.
  • A Theory of Justice by John Rawls. I know Rawls is a famous liberal, but his work can still be interpreted to support further left Ideologies. In his later works like Justice as Fairness: A Restatement you can see him tending closer to Democratic Socialism.
  • Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche for... Nietzsche's very odd type of Egoism. His ethical work was especially influential to Anarchists such as Max Stirner, Emma Goldman or Murray Bookchin and also Accelerationists like Jean Baudrillard.
  • In case you think moralism and ethics is just bourgeois propaganda maybe read something on subjectivism like Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong by J. L. Mackie
  • Or if you want to hear a strong defense of objective morality read Moral Realism: A Defense by Russ Shafer-Landau orc
u/HippeHoppe · 3 pointsr/CapitalismVSocialism

I'm actually a minarchist who believes in a particular kind of restricted natural duty theory of social contract (Kant's justification for the state), but I was an ancap for a long time so I think I can give a good crack at an ancap answer.

>The social contract doesn't exist as a single legal document that one writes up and then signs, to be stored away for future reference.

As you say, the social contract is very clearly not a single historical event which establishes consent. However, this is one very common way of arguing for a particular kind of social contract (in particular, it's a common libertarian way of arguing for a social contract), so it's not as if ancaps are just strawmanning the position.

The general problem seems to be establishing:

(1) what the contract actually is

(2) how it's established

If the social contract is supposed to operate like any other contract, so that you 'consent' to the terms of the contract by an actual act of consent, then there are some pretty clear problems. For one thing, it's hard to identify what specific actions constitute consent - and, if you didn't perform those actions, would that constitute non-consent? For instance, if using government roads means that you consent to the government, then does not using those roads mean you don't consent? Second, it seems like the only way that a lot of these conditions for consent can "get going" in the first place is through something you did not consent to - for instance, in order for the government to begin to provide services for the "first citizens" who benefited from those services, the government probably coerced those citizens to make that provision possible (for example, by taxing them, or by preventing competing organizations from providing the same services). This is most clearly the case with law/security/defense.

For example, if the US government commanded the obedience of native Americans because they were "residing on US government land", this wouldn't be legitimate, because the only reason the US government "owns" that land is by conquering and subjugating the non-consenting Indians; so the conditions for consent depend on a coercive act, which invalidates the state's claim to those conditions.

This general approach to social contract theory, which establishes some way of providing actual consent, is called a transactional consent theory - the idea is that people have certain moral rights in a vacuum, but that that transact or transfer those rights to the state by an act of consent. There are other credible approaches to justification of a social contract, but I think it's pretty clear that the transactional model (which most libertarians criticize) is not one of them. It ends up boiling down to "you relate to the government by X, which means you consent", and libertarians saying (probably correctly) that "the only reason X exists is because the government coerced me prior to establishing X!"

> It exists as a state of relationships between people, communities and societies. We observe it's natural convention at work when we interact with our friends as opposed to strangers, family members as opposed to foreigners, and as one nation in contrast with other nations.

This is a more 'associative' theory of political obligation - the idea is that, because you exist in some unchosen association with other people, this establishes some sort of collective obligation for people due to this association. But it seems like the problem with this theory is that, absent some more ethical work to flesh it out, it's only begging the question: we have a political obligation to people based on X association (family, clan, race, nation, humanity, etc.) because... why, exactly? It seems like the answer is just "because of the association" (we can talk about all the details of that association - the fact that you share certain characteristics or have a shared history, or because you tend to cooperate together, or something else), but, again, it seems like it builds the conclusion ("unchosen associations imply obligations") into the premise.

I don't think it's quite as simple as that, because I think it is possible to mount a compelling defense of an associative theory of political obligation (it's actually a theory associated more strongly with conservative political philosophy - although your flair says you're a socialist, the best sources for this sort of theory are, imo, Aristotle and Edmund Burke). But it's not very compelling for most people today, because people today generally think that consent is a morally important factor for the sort of stuff that the state does, and the social contract is supposed to show us that consent actually exists. This associative theory might establish that we have a duty to obey the law and the state has a right to command us, but it doesn't establish that this relationship is consensual (for the theorists I have in mind who advocate this theory, however, consent simply isn't important for establishing political authority or obligation).

>In any country you live in, certain rights are accorded to you as a citizen that aren't available to other people who aren't.

First, ancaps will disagree with this characterization of rights. Ancaps think (and I do too, even though I'm not an ancap) that rights are logically and historically prior to the state: even if there exists no state, you have certain rights, and these rights don't depend on their being secured to be morally important (for instance, even if you have no way of defending yourself and you live in a stateless island, it would still be a violation of your rights for someone else to kill you).

Second, it's unclear what the sort of positive rights you're talking about have to do with the social contract without at least some further explanation. The mere fact that you are given special privileges doesn't seem to imply that your relationship with the person who grants those privileges is consensual - for instance, you might be accorded rights to water use against your neighbors (so that your neighbors can't use some water, but you can) because of a local warlord who prefers you to your neighbors. But this doesn't mean that everything else the warlord does to you is consensual; all it means is that he's nicer to you than everyone else.

>When someone talks about the social contract, this is simply what they're referring to (1).

Yes, yes, we all know who John Rawls is. However, the defense of social contract theory which you've provided is actually not much like John Rawls's theory of justice at all. If you're going to condescendingly posture yourself as better educated than we stupid libertarians, at least be better educated.

>Claiming that you're not part of a larger social system because nobody presented you with a piece of paper is just a straw man argument, you understand it in your public and private behavior every day.

See: all above.

u/moreLytes · 3 pointsr/DebateReligion

At the outset, please note that this topic is exceedingly slippery. I am convinced that the most efficient way to understand these issues is through the study of philosophy of ethics.

> Where do atheists get their [sense of] morality?

Nature, nurture, and the phenomenological self-model.

> What defines the "good" and "bad" that has
permeated much of human society?

Easy: notice that personal definitions of morality between individuals immersed in the same culture tend to strongly overlap (e.g., most moderns consider rape to be "bad").

From this considerable volume of data, it is fairly simple to construct principles that adequately generalize these working definitions, such as "promote happiness", and "mitigate pain".

> [If you're not caught, why not murder? Why donate to charity? Does might make right?]

These questions appear to have both practical and intuitive solutions.

What are you trying to understand?

> How do atheists tend to reconcile moral relativism?

What do you mean?

> Barring the above deconstructions, how do atheists account for morality?

Moral theories largely attempt to bridge the gap between descriptive facts and normative commands:

  • Kant argued that norms are not discovered via our senses, but are simply axiomatic principles.
  • Rawls argued that norms are the product of a hypothetical agreement in which all ideally rational humans would affirm certain values (Social Contract) if they didn't know their fate in advance (Veil Of Ignorance).
  • Mill argued that norms are best expressed through the need to increase pleasure and decrease pain.
  • Parfit argued that these three approaches don't really contradict one another.
  • Nietzsche argued that norms and artistic tastes are the same.
  • Mackie argued that norms are human inventions that include social welfare considerations.

u/JudgeBastiat · 2 pointsr/Libertarian
u/bodhidharma6 · 2 pointsr/Civcraft

ttk a lot of what you wrote kind of circles around John Rawls' concept of the Veil of Ignorance as a methodology for determining what's "fair." Specifically the part about things seeming fair or unfair depending one whether you're a vault-builder or a vault-breaker. The Veil of Ignorance approach would mean you design the rules assuming nothing about which position or role you would assume in the outcome, and for maximum fairness assume yourself to be the least-advantaged. That's what you essentially did with the griefer scenario.

>Had a quote from the article here but autowikibot made it redundant

Read some Rawls, homey. You seem largely on-board with parts of his outlook already and it might interest you to read the most-cited formulation of it.

u/satanic_hamster · 2 pointsr/CapitalismVSocialism

> In the US, police often lock people up for minor drug crimes. They also are in the habit of confiscating money without warrant - its called 'asset forfeiture' (google it, it sucks).

> These things are funded through tax dollars, presumably as a part of the 'social contract'. If this were a free market, very few people would be willing to pay for incarceration for minor drug crimes. Neither would they pay for 'asset forfeiture' services. This is only possible with a monopoly on violence and only justifiable through the 'social contract'.

We already agree on that, and so my choice as a citizen is to do something about it. Moreover, the only reason you or I have a right to complain in any sense is because we're able to appeal to violations and double standards in the moral norms of our society. Without it, the only thing that would make anything permissible or not is whether or not you're able to get away with it.

> Presumably we elected some people at some point that thought these things were a good idea, but surely a vote doesn't justify either of these bad behaviors. Therefore, the social contract is also insufficient as justification.

To the extent we vote for representatives, we hope to get what we vote for. The social contract doesn't imply justifications for bad behavior (which is why we can point to violations of them, and do, as you just did). If you want more insights and examples of the logic we're discussing you can read more into it (1, 2).

u/Colyer · 2 pointsr/videos

This one. It's quite a bit more of a political philosophy book than an ethical one, so if he wrote more about ethics, I think it's elsewhere. This is probably most famous for his justification for income redistribution.