Individualism   /   Spring 2002   /    Book Reviews

A Review Essay on John Rawl’s

Justice as Fairness

Talbot Brewer

Philisophy live not in static theses and perfected arguments but in dialogical exchange, where no conclusion is definitive and no word the last. Thus philosophers can never satisfactorily finish but only abandon their works. In this light, John Rawls’ Justice as Fairness: A Restatement shines not only because of the subtlety and interest of the multiple dialogues from which it has arisen, but also because of the tenacity with which Rawls kept alive these exchanges before failing health finally forced him to abandon the work to his publisher. Successive vintages of the book have been circulating in manuscript form for the better part of two decades. These manuscripts provide a series of snapshots of an open-ended and engaging conversation between Rawls and a host of brilliant commentators, both friendly and unfriendly, about the tenability of the main claims and arguments of Rawls’ seminal work of 1971, A Theory of Justice.

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