Happy 100th Birthday, John Rawls!
Today is the 100th birthday of the late John Rawls, probably the most significant political philosopher of the 20th century. Rawls’ most important and influential works were A Theory of Justice (1971) and Political Liberalism (1993).
University of Virginia Law Professor Larry Solum has a helpful post on Rawls’ importance to legal and political theory here. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has a more general overview of his work.
Solum also comments that “Rawls, the human, was generous and kind–perhaps to a fault.” I can testify to that based on personal experience.
In this memoir, written for the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) (pp. 24-26), I describe how I had a lengthy phone conversation with Rawls when I was a high school sophomore. My teammates and I thought Rawls (who lived in the same town as we did) could provide some useful insights on an argument we were developing for an upcoming high school debate tournament.
I was the person nominated to actually call Rawls, because, as one teammate put it (probably mistakenly), “you guys have a lot in common.” Although Rawls was then the most famous politica
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