Justice and the Social Contract: Essays on Rawlsian Political Philosophy Published: Reviewed by Paul Weithman, University of Notre Dame This book  brings together nine papers by the political philosopher Samuel Freeman, seven of them previously published. The subtitle of the volume under review, together with Freeman's editorial work, might suggest that the nine papers collected here are primarily devoted to explaining Rawls's thought.
Justice and the Social Contract: Essays on Rawlsian Political Philosophy Published: Reviewed by Paul Weithman, University of Notre Dame This book  brings together nine papers by the political philosopher Samuel Freeman, seven of them previously published.
But Freeman insists they are not, or not exactly.
The papers in this volume are essais in Rawlsian political philosophy, but they are most definitely not desultory forays into that field. Freeman seems to have read almost all of the classical philosophical sources on which Rawls drew, to have assimilated large stretches of contemporary and secondary literature, and to have thought deeply about every sentence Rawls ever wrote.
The result is an extraordinarily substantial set of papers. The shortest of them is 30 pages of small print with narrow margins. All nine are dense with arguments and exegesis. Taken together, the nine essays make for very demanding reading. Students who are looking for an introduction to Rawls would be well advised to start elsewhere.
It is hard to exaggerate how important a contribution Freeman has made by answering that question. Rawls rarely addressed objections to his view, and rarely contended with the positions staked out by others in the debates of the day. Knowing how Rawls might have addressed objections, and knowing what he might have said about the positions of others, are very valuable.
It seems unlikely we will ever see a more faithful and better informed set of replies and interventions than those that Freeman provides here. The blending of "interpretation or defense" with "extension" is so seamless in this book that there are generally good grounds for thinking that Rawls would have said what Freeman does say.
Singling out the best essay on any one subject is, in most cases, virtually impossible. Every one of the essays Freeman has chosen for this book belongs in the small set of articles that is essential reading to accompany the sections or questions in Rawls with which it deals.
If a graduate seminar or an advanced undergraduate class that deals with Rawls in depth is going to require any books at all beyond the primary texts, then Justice and the Social Contract ought to be among them.
Despite the fact that Justice and the Social Contract is already a long book, it could have been still longer. Freeman has left out some pieces that would have fit nicely into this collection. It would have been good to have included it, even at the expense of lengthening the volume.
Objections to Rawls are generally treated so as to make them more tractable from a Rawlsian point of view. Some readers will wish that Freeman had developed objections in such a way that they can see why those who offer objections and alternative positions have found them compelling -- especially the objections and alternatives offered by those who Freeman says "reject the entire Rawlsian framework Joseph Raz, John Finnis, et al.
And the objections offered to "the entire Rawlsian framework" by philosophers like Raz and Finnis are so fundamental that it might have been impossible for Freeman to have developed the sort of nuanced replies he offers to objections which start closer to home.
There might be little beyond the obvious to be said in response to such basic objections. And so there may be a good case for not developing the objections after all.
As I have indicated, this is a very valuable book. The value lies, of course, in what the reader learns by working through it.John Rawls is the subject of A Theory of Justice: The Musical!, an award-nominated musical billed as an "all-singing, all-dancing romp through 2, years of political philosophy".
The musical premiered at Oxford in and was revived for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Justice and the Social Contract: Essays on Rawlsian Political Philosophy Published: July 13, Samuel Freeman, Justice and the Social Contract: Essays on Rawlsian Political Philosophy, Oxford University Press, , pp., $ (hbk), ISBN For Rawls a social contract is a hypothetical not an historical contract.
Thus Rawls does not claim that people actually agree to a particular set of morally defensible principles of justice. Rawls says in the preface to A Theory of Justice that he seeks to revive social contract theory in order to offer an alternative conception of justice to utilitarianism, which he regards as the dominant tradition in moral and political philosophy.
John Rawls is the subject of A Theory of Justice: The Musical!, an award-nominated musical billed as an "all-singing, all-dancing romp through 2, years of political philosophy".
The musical premiered at Oxford in and was revived for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. His work, particularly A Theory of Justice, is integral to discussions of social and international justice, democracy, liberalism, welfare economics, and constitutional law, in departments of philosophy, politics, economics, law, public policy, and others.